Preventing Toxoplasmosis

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If you have a cat at home and somebody in the house is pregnant, beware of Toxoplasmosis…but a little care and awareness can go a long way in preventing it.

Cats can transmit a protozoan disease of human importance, which is a serious disease during pregnancy. If you have a cat at home, I would suggest that all would be mothers should undergo a blood test to find out if they are carriers of this diseases since the titers can tell you that if you have a high titer, it is better to take treatment and then go ahead with pregnancy. Toxoplasmosis can cause serious birth defects. A woman who has acquired it during pregnancy can transmit the infection to her unborn child. And a congenital Toxoplasmosis infection in utero can lead to miscarriage. Almost 9 percent result in death of the fetus and 30 percent have severe damage such as hydrocephalus, intracerebral calcification, retinochoroiditis and mental retardation.

Here are some tips to help you avoid exposure to Toxoplasma during your pregnancy:

  • Do not allow your cat to go outside your home where it may come into contact with Toxoplasma.
  • If possible, have someone else take care of your cat while you are pregnant.
  • Have another family member change the cat litter box and then disinfect it with boiling water for 5 minutes.
  • If you must handle the chore of changing the litter box, wear rubber gloves to avoid contact with the litter and wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.
  • Use work gloves when gardening and wash your hands afterwards. Cover children’s sandboxes when not in use (cats like to use them as litter boxes).
  • Control fleas and cockroach’s, wash vegetables in potassium permanganate diluted in water.
  • Wash your hands after touching cats.

Toxoplasmosis is treatable disease and precaution can avoid its transmission.

(Dr M S Hatekar is leading practitioner in Pune. He has learnt Gastropexy surgery from Department of Invasive Surgery, North Carolina Veterinary School of Medicine.)

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