1. Did your doctor ask? Obstetricians must inquire from all their pregnant women on their initial prenatal visit if they own cats. Do not purchase a new cat or pet stray cats when pregnant. Cats should be fed cooked meat and kept indoors to prevent them from acquiring toxoplasmosis. Pregnant women should avoid changing the litter box. If it is completely unavoidable, gloves should be worn and the litter box should be changed daily.
2. Wear gloves. Gloves should be worn when gardening or when a pregnant woman has any contact with soil or sand.
3. Avoid eating uncooked meat. Meats that are smoked, cured in brine, or dried can still be infectious. Wild game and venison are especially high in oocytes from toxoplasmosis. Spores are very resistant to environmental conditions except when heated to 55–60 degrees C for 1 to 2 min or when deep freezing meat (-12 degrees C or lower). All fruits and vegetables should be thoroughly washed before eating to prevent cross contamination from other foods or soil. Do not drink unpasteurized milk. Drinking unfiltered water or when rain and surface water lands into drinking water and irrigation water, infection can occur.
4. Screening. Screening should be done in high risk women to decrease the incidence and severity of congenital toxoplasmosis by identifying the disease early and initiating treatment in an infected woman.
5. Special circumstances. Public health measures may have to be instituted in high risk communities around the world necessitating the filtering of water, testing and labeling meat as being toxoplasmosis free and improving farm hygiene.
Please feel free to post any questions you may have below. I would love to help prevent this disease from happening to any family looking forward to a new baby in the home.
Dr. Brown, founder of Beauté de Maman, is a board-certified member of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, a member of the American Medical Association, the Fairfield County Medical Association, Yale Obstetrical and Gynecological Society and the Women's Medical Association of Fairfield County. She is a magna cum laude graduate of Tufts University, completed her medical training at George Washington University Medical Center and completed her internship and residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Yale-New Haven Hospital. Dr. Brown has a busy obstetrical practice in Stamford, Connecticut and, as a clinical attending, actively teaches residents from Stamford Hospital and medical students from Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York.
Copyright © Michele Brown. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC.