If you recently got pregnant and you have pets in the house, then you may ask yourself whether it can be dangerous for the baby and what precautions should be taken. There are certain circumstances that can cause worry when pets are involved – whether it is a dog, cat, or a bird. Here is what you need to look out for to keep things safe without getting rid of your beloved little pets.
In Europe and America, 50-80% of the population is infected with a parasite called toxoplasma gondii, and the disease it causes is called toxoplasmosis. All parasites that are transferred from animals to people have their own life span, and so does toxoplasma gondii. It multiplies in the intestines of cats, and it is released through defecation. Then it can come into contact with people and infect them. This parasite can be found in almost all warm-blooded animals, including birds. The source of the disease, besides cats, is raw, or insufficiently processed meat.
With adults, the disease can pass without any symptoms, or in the form of a cold. But, if a pregnant woman is infected, then the disease can pass on to the fetus. The consequences are most severe during the first three months of pregnancy, while they decrease if the fetus is infected later.
Be sure to notify your doctor that you have a cat if you are pregnant.
How is the disease transferred?
It is transferred through the cat’s feces. Outdoor cats have a much higher chance of catching the virus than indoor cats. They get infected by eating raw meat and drinking under boiled milk. Then it multiplies inside the cat’s internal organs and the exposure to feces is enough to transfer it to humans and other animals as well.
If the woman was immune to toxoplasmosis before pregnancy then there is no need to worry. About 10 to 15% of women have immunity to toxoplasmosis because they previously kept cats and had toxoplasmosis before. Antibodies were created during that time and the immunity is permanent.
Can the woman be infected before pregnancy without knowing it?
The acute phase of the disease passes as a flue, so most people don’t even know they had toxoplasmosis. If the acute phase is discovered before planning a pregnancy, then the woman could have been infected immediately before or during the test. In that case, macrolide antibiotics such as Clarithromycin are distributed.
What are the most common effects of the disease during pregnancy?
Unfortunately, they are very severe. To start from the most benign ones there is small birth weight, premature birth, jaundice, and fever. Then, more dangerous effects include abnormality of the retina, blindness, mental retardation, change in head dimension, convulsion and calcification of the brain.
How dangerous is the disease during the last three months of pregnancy?
The disease can be very dangerous during the last three months of pregnancy. However, there is little to no danger to the fetus itself. It cannot be easily damaged or harmed. All the organs are already developed which is beneficent for the baby.
Where are we exposed to the feces the most?
It is usually in the garden or back yard, where cats bury their feces. Also, exposure is great when changing the litter box, take extra precaution while doing that. Even the dirt the cats leaves around the house can cause toxoplasmosis.