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Pregnant Women Beware of Pet Dangers

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Cats & ToxoplasmosisCat Box/Litter Box

Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by a parasite, Toxoplasmosis gondii. Most cases in humans result from contact with cat feces, particularly those of cats who hunt rodents or birds. Non-hunting cats who stay indoors 100 percent of the time represent a much smaller risk. The danger of infection occurs when you come in contact with infected soil or litter boxes. You can also become infected by eating undercooked meats or foods contaminated with the parasite.

In adults, the disease may produce a mild flu-like syndrome, and often it produces no symptoms at all. But the parasite can cross the placenta, and this is a very dangerous infection when it strikes a fetus. Infection in the early part of pregnancy is less likely to be transmitted to the fetus, but when infection does occur early on it results in severe birth defects or miscarriage. Later in pregnancy the organism is more likely to infect the fetus but less likely to cause damage.

Have another family member deal with the litter box. Don't allow your cat to walk on areas where food is prepared, and if your cat is sick, it should be removed from the household. In addition, women who are pregnant or planning pregnancy soon should avoid eating raw or undercooked meat and should wash their hands and food preparation surfaces after handling such meats. Also, use gloves when gardening, as neighborhood cats may use your garden as a litter box.

Hamster HazardHamster Hazard

According to the March of Dimes, Pregnant women should ask someone else to clean the hamster's cage, or better yet, put off getting a hamster until after the baby is born. These and other rodents can carry a virus that may pose a risk to an unborn baby if the mother becomes infected.

Reptile DangerIguana and Reptile Hazard

Reptiles can cause Salmonella infections (the same bacteria that causes food poisoning). Reptiles -- such as iguanas, snakes, turtles, and lizards carry salmonella and they shed it. While children under the age of 5 are most at risk, pregnant women should avoid both direct and indirect contact to err on the side of caution.

 


 

 


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Pet Hazards during Pregnancy


 


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