Toxoplasmosis and Pregnancy: Don’t Touch That Litter Box!

One way to prevent getting this parasite is by washing your hands with soap and water. Image by Maria Francia & Boris Striepen, University of Georgia.

One way to prevent getting this parasite is by washing your hands with soap and water. Image by Maria Francia & Boris Striepen, University of Georgia.

Avoiding Infections From Food

Fluffy isn’t the only thing that can give you toxoplasmosis, Raw meats and unwashed produce can also contain the parasite, and make you and your unborn baby sick.

To avoid contamination, the FDA recommends washing your hands with soap and water after handling raw meat and produce, and wash all cutting boards, knives, and anything else you might have used to prepare the food with soap and water after each use.

Before eating fruits or vegetables, you should peel or wash them thoroughly.

Cooking meat until it reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit will kill any parasites as well as bacteria that might be lurking in your meat. Cook poultry to 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Toxoplasmosis Symptoms

Most people who contract toxoplasma don’t have any symptoms, others may feel like they have the flu – with swollen lymph glands, or muscle aches that last longer than a month. If you contract toxoplasma right before you become pregnant or during your pregnancy, you can pass along the infection to your unborn baby.

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Babies who have been infected while in the womb may not show any signs or symptoms at birth; however, they can develop blindness of mental disability later on in life, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). On occasion, babies at birth may have serious eye or brain damage due to toxoplasma.

Beware Toxoplasmosis Infection!

While you don’t have to give away Fluffy, or stop eating certain foods, you do need to take all precautions to avoid becoming infected. If you think you may have toxoplasmosis, tell your doctor, as there are blood tests to confirm a diagnosis, and medications for treating this condition.


Pereboom, M., Manniën, J., Spelten, E., Schellevis, F., Hutton, E. Observational study to assess pregnant women’s knowledge and behaviour to prevent toxoplasmosis, listeriosis and cytomegalovirus. (2013). BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth. Accessed October 11, 2013.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Toxoplasmosis: Pregnant Women. (2013). Accessed October 11, 2013.

March of Dimes. Toxoplasmosis. (2012). Accessed October 11, 2013.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Food Safety for Moms-To-Be: While You’re Pregnant – Toxoplasma. (2013). Accessed October 11, 2013.

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