Toxoplasmosis or 'cat fever' is an extremely rare
concern to fret over during pregnancy. Often most
people feel the need to remove their pet cat from
their premises because of the link between toxoplasmosis
and cats. But contrary to this belief toxoplasmosis
can also result from eating raw contaminated meat
and not from contact with their cats alone.
Did You Know..
• Cat feces may be contaminated with toxoplasmosis
gondii, a microorganism that causes this infection.
• If you have lived with your cat for some time,
the chances are quite high that you may have already
contracted toxoplasmosis and are probably immune to
it by now.
• To check for the antibodies a blood test can
be performed but before becoming pregnant. If there
are antibodies to the virus you are probably immune
and need not worry about developing toxoplasmosis.
If you have no antibodies, you are not immune and
so if you do develop symptoms a test by your doctor
• The rate of infection is higher in people
who consume raw meat and unpasterized milk. and who
• Unless you show symptoms, you are not likely
to get tested during pregnancy.
• Toxoplasmosis becomes a real threat if the
pregnant woman is exposed to this parasite for the
first time during pregnancy.
• An affected fetus can be born prematurely,
face low birthweight or develop serious central nervous
system defects, and even stillbirth
Toxoplasmosis and the Fetus
• In the first trimester infection rate is the
smallest while damage to the fetus is the highest.
The damage generally involves the heart, neurological
• In the middle trimester the infection rate
goes a little higher but the damage possibility is
• In the
final trimester the baby is most vulnerable to infection
but the risk of serious damage is the lowest.
• Fetal testing using fetus blood or through
amniotic fluid around weeks 20-22 is possible
If a pregnant lady does become infected with toxoplasmosis
a good amount of damage to the fetus is very likely.
For that reason alone it is very important to minimize
the possibility of infection to the very best you
can by following these guidelines when you are pregnant:
• Avoid eating and touching raw meat, shellfish
and drinking unpasterized milk. When eating out order
meat well done
• Get someone else to clean the cat's litter
box. If that is not possible then wear a mask and
use gloves when handling cat litter. Change the litter
every day. Do not be in close proximity with your
cat e.g. allow your cat to lick your face.
• Take your cat(s) to the vet for a checkup
to rule out active infection. If an infection is found
get someone to take care of your cat for about 2 months
to avoid transmission.
• If the test is negative, feed your cat store
bought food and keep your pet indoors to prevent contracting
the parasite from rodents, birds and raw meat
• Wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly
and wash your hands properly after handling uncooked
• Wear gloves when gardening in case you come
in contact with cat fec
• Most infected persons show no symptoms. Occasionally
a few do develop flu-like symptoms: slight fever,
swollen glands 2-3 weeks after exposure and a rash
about 2 days later. But having lived with cats, the
chance of coming down with this disease is very rare
because you have already developed antibodies to toxoplasmosis
• In any case there are 2 tests. The first is
performed to determine if you were ever exposed to
toxoplasmosis by measuring antibody levels in your
blood. The second test is performed to determine whether
you have had a recent infection which you were ignorant
about. Both tests are necessary if there is any possibility
of exposure. The second test also becomes necessary
if you develop a suspicious viral-like infection.
Treatment for active infection involves a course of