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New York Personal Injury Law Blog

Monday, February 5, 2018

If You’re Pregnant, Get Rid of the Cat!

Calling all pregnant cat lovers. In light of recent scientific discoveries, the hazard posed to pregnant women and their fetuses has become a serious issue. Cats can be a medium of transmission for toxoplasmosis, a blood infection that is especially dangerous to unborn children. This disease is caused by a single-celled parasite called Toxoplasma  gondii, which can only live out their full life cycle and become sexually mature in cats. As a result, exposure to cats, including contact with its fecal matter can cause an infection.

Because cats do their business primarily in litter boxes, you have a chance of getting infected just by cleaning out your cat’s litter box. If contracted, the parasite itself is not life-threatening to pregnant women—the worst symptoms might be similar to those of the flu. However, the parasites have the potential to be extremely harmful to unborn children. Risks include mental retardation, blindness, learning disabilities, miscarriages, stillbirths, and pre-term births. Since the mother’s blood is the lifeline of the child during pregnancy, anything that goes into the bloodstream affects the child, in this case the child is infected through the placenta.

Some have suggested that it’s safe to keep your cat during your pregnancy as long as someone else changes the cat litter. Even so, with the cat stepping into and making contact with the litter (and perhaps the fecal matter), it is probably not a good idea to have the cat is in the vicinity of anyone pregnant. Given that the potential perils are significant, it may not be worth the risk.  If you absolutely must keep your cat though, stay far, far away from the litter box as even dust can cause exposure.

Lastly, because you can’t rule out stray cats either, getting infected via handling soil that is contaminated with cat feces is also possible, so consider staying away from gardening and soil altogether. And as always, rely on the advice of your doctor.


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