For anyone who doesn’t know me…I am that crazy cat lady! Cats are awesome, truly amazing, fuzzy little acrobatic ninja’s that I could never imagine my life without. Last year, I invited my boy, Bronson, into this great big world. My pregnancy was NOT a normal pregnancy and being in a position of working in a veterinary hospital and having a larger number of cats living in my home…I was at risk of a parasite called Toxoplasmosis.
Toxoplasmosis is a parasitic disease that is caused by a protozoan Toxoplasmosis gondii. Cats just happen to be one of the more common carriers of the parasite and are infected by eating birds, small mammals, or drinking infected water. Once the parasite has infected our fuzzy friends, it is then shed in their feces. Cat’s and kittens can shed millions of this parasite with each bowel movement for as long as three weeks after the initial infection.
Since we love and care for our cats in our home, we are at risk of contracting the infection too. We are put at risk of Toxoplasmosis because we clean our cat’s litter boxes. People who contract Toxoplasmosis usually suffer flu-like symptoms, but pregnant women who may contract the parasite can be detrimental to the health of their unborn child. Toxoplasmosis can affect the unborn child and cause lasting health effects and/or disability. Activities such as gardening or handling raw meat can also put us at risk.
If you have cats at home and are pregnant, delegate litter box duties to another individual in your home. If you are in a position that you can not delegate the litter box duties, you may wear latex gloves and just make sure you wash your hands thoroughly afterwards. If you are concerned that you may have Toxoplasmosis, contact your health care provider. Annual parasite screening is also an important adjunct to regular veterinary visits to ensure your cat is parasite free.