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Resources > Healthcare Tips & Alerts > Toxoplasmosis and Cats

Toxoplasmosis and Cats

Severe illness can occur from Toxoplasmosis if a person's immune system is not working well.  In these cases, the body's defenses may not be able to control the spread of Toxoplasma, and the parasites may cause brain disease.  Pregnant women should take extreme precautionary measures being around cat litter boxes.  Babies born to a mother who is infected while pregnant can have birth defects, blindness and brain damage.  Pregnant women who are infected are also at rick of miscarriage. 

Tips to prevent infection during pregnancy:

1.  Eat only well-cooked meat and drink only safe (non-contaminated) water.

2.  Wash your hands well after any exposure to soil (gardening), sand boxes, or raw meat.

3.  Wash fresh fruits and vegetables to reduce soil contamination.

4.  Cover sand boxes and play areas to prevent wildlife and stray cats from contaminating these areas.

5.  Keep cats indoors to minimize their risk of infection.

6.  Feed cats only commercial cat food or well-cooked meat.

7.  Choose adult cats as pets.

8.  Have an adult friend, or a spouse or partner change the litter box.  If changing the litter box by yourself is unavoidable, wear gloves and change it daily.  Be certain to wash hands well after changing the litter or touching the scooper.

9.  Have cat feces picked up from the yard daily.

10.  Take your cat to your veterinarian regularly and have it tested for parasites at least annually.

If you think you have been exposed to Toxoplasma, especially if you are pregnant, talk to your doctor.