Ask Dr. Anna: Pregnant women may be infected by cats

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Are you pregnant or know someone that is pregnant and has a cat in the household?  Then you need to read this article about Toxoplasmosis.  Pregnant women infected with the Toxoplasma organism are prone to having miscarriages or babies born with birth defects.  Toxoplasma is a parasite that can infect all species of warm blooded animals.  However, cats are the only species that allows the parasite to complete its entire life cycle and continue with its reproduction.

Anna Coffin is the Veterinarian at Guthrie Pet Hospital and can be contacted at (405) 282-8796.
Anna Coffin is the Veterinarian at Guthrie Pet Hospital and can be contacted at (405) 282-8796.

Toxoplasma infection is common it cats.  In fact, up to 50% of cats have antibodies indicating that they have been infected by this organism.  It is rare for cats to develop illness due to this parasite unless they become immune compromised.  In the United States, cats become infected with Toxoplasmosis by eating infected rodents.  Infection can also occur with all species by ingestion of infected raw meat.  Cats that test positive for antibodies to Toxoplasma do not have an active infection and do not pose a risk to pregnant females.  Cats will only shed the organism in there feces 3-10 days after eating an infected mouse.  In fact, shedding the organism is very rare and only occurs in 1 out of every 250 cats.

Hopefully by this point, you are aware that cats don’t pose a huge risk of transmitting this disease to your unborn child.  The most common way that people are infected with this organism is by eating raw or undercooked meat that contains the organism.  Proper cooking and or freezing of the meat for several days will kill the organism.  Less common ways to become infected include ingestion of raw, unpasteurized goat’s milk, ingestion through contaminated water or inhalation of the organism through infected soil or litter boxes.

Please e-mail me with your questions at ACoffin@aol.com and put “Ask Dr. Anna” in the subject line or mail your questions to 123 West Harrison Guthrie, OK 73044.

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One Response to "Ask Dr. Anna: Pregnant women may be infected by cats"

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