Toxoplasmosis is caused by a parasite called Toxoplasma gondii. While it is typically mild and may have no symptoms, it can sometimes cause high temperature, a headache, a sore throat, or aching muscles.
If you have had toxoplasmosis in the past, you are essentially immune to it moving forward – that is, your body can now recognize it and fight it off. However, if you contract the infection for the first time while pregnant, it can travel through the placenta and into the womb. This is not always problematic, however, in the worst cases, it can lead to physical or mental developmental issues once the baby is born or may increase the risk of miscarriage.
Can I prevent catching toxoplasmosis?
While pregnant, it is important to avoid known carriers of the toxoplasmosis parasite. Things to avoid include:
- Raw eggs
- Cat poo or litter trays
- Cured meats
- Raw meat or rare meat
- Unpasteurized milk
Always remember to:
- Thoroughly cook any raw meat before eating.
- Avoid handling raw meat yourself if possible. If you do, wear gloves and thoroughly wash your hands afterward as well as any cutting boards, knives, etc that have come into contact with raw meat.
- Wash fruits and veggies before eating to remove any traces of soil.
- Wear gloves if you are gardening and wash your hands properly afterward.
- Avoid contact with cats and if you have a cat, avoid managing your cat’s litter tray if you can. Keep your cat away from food storage and preparation areas.
- Always wash your hands after touching animals.
A toxoplasmosis test is not a routine test during pregnancy. Chat to your doctor if you think you could have been exposed, or if you just want to check for peace of mind.