Toxoplasmosis & Pregnancy

Pregnant Women Need Not Fear Cats

Undercooked meat is more to blame for toxoplasmosis infections in pregnant women than cats are, according to a recent article in The Archives of Internal Medicine, cited in The New York Times.

In the article, Dr. Jeffrey D. Kravetz of the Yale School of Medicine said that casual contact with a cat would not expose pregnant women to the disease that can cause miscarriages or fetal damage.

Indoor cats are unlikely to spread the infection and older outdoor cats are less likely to carry it than younger cats, he said.
Traditionally, doctors have warned pregnant women to stay away from cats and their litter boxes because cat feces is thought to spread toxoplasmosis.

Kravetz said about 3,000 pregnant women do transmit the infection to fetuses every year, but the source would more likely be contaminated meat or infected soil.
Still, he suggested concerned cat owners wear gloves when changing litter boxes and change litter often. Women can also take a test to see if they have developed immunity to the disease through earlier exposure.

Veterinary Practice News DECEMBER 2002