Toxoplasmosis is a small parasite that can infect the baby’s brain while pregnant and cause brain damage. It is rare to see this fortunately. Twenty five percent of US adults have been exposed to “Toxo”and are immune to it.
There exists some confusion surrounding the most common way it is transmitted to humans. Despite the fact that eating undercooked meat is by far the most common way to get infected with Toxoplasmosis, cat litter boxes get the majority of the blame. It is puzzling why pregnant American women have not taken more advantage of this to convince their “significant other” to take up the habit of changing their feline’s litter box-forever!
If your cat has ever been in the outdoors, it may carry the “toxo” parasite. The infection probably occurred in the first place from eating a contaminated animal’s feces or eating the animal itself. The “toxo” parasite is prevalent in meats, and if present, is easily transmitted if the meat is undercooked. If the parasite is in meats, it can easily be killed by cooking the meats, but it can often survive freezing.
In France, where undercooked or raw meat is often eaten, over 50% of the population has been exposed! “Toxo” cannot be absorbed through intact skin and it is very rare to get it while petting a cat. Transmission is usually through hand-to-mouth transmission. Washing your hands after contact with a cat or using gloves while changing the litter box will nearly eliminate any risk to you. If concerned about it, you can get a blood test to see if you are immune or have been exposed.
So, the important message here is to definitely not eat raw or undercooked meat while pregnant and yet be a little cautious with your cat and it’s litter box. Also make sure to wear gloves when working with soil. If your cat is a possible carrier, wash your hands after petting and use gloves if you are going to change “the box”. It is Ok to have your “S.O.” do the litter box if you don’t want to take any chances at all.