Toxoplasma infection or toxoplasmosis is often considered a frightening disease for pregnant women, especially those who have pets or often interact with animals. This disease can pose a serious danger to the fetus contained by pregnant women.
Cats are often accused of being one of the main transmission agents of toxoplasma. Though the transmission was not only from cats, but also from several other types of animals. Understanding toxoplasma transmission and how to overcome it can help pregnant women prevent the transmission of toxoplasma.
Important Things to Know about Toxoplasma Infection
Toxoplasma gondii infection is a toxoplasma infection or toxoplasmosis. This small organism can live in cats. Toxoplasmosis infection is actually quite rare. Usually this infection can be transmitted to humans in several ways, including:
- Contact with feces of infected cats.
- Contact with cat feces contaminated soil.
- Consuming raw or undercooked meat, fruits and vegetables that have not been washed clean, and cheese or milk that is not through the process of pasteurization.
- Using cooking utensils used to process raw meat without washing.
- Consuming contaminated water.
Toxoplasma infection can occur when the contaminated hand touches the eyes, mouth, or nose. Even so, not necessarily those who keep cats and are exposed to these parasites are directly infected with toxoplasma infection. Because, this infection will not spread easily to people with a strong immune system.
Women who experience toxoplasma infection about 6-9 months before pregnancy, generally have formed an immune system and are not at risk of passing the infection to the fetus. In contrast to women who have this infection while pregnant, because of the risk of transmitting the infection to the fetus through the placenta.
Therefore, anyone should remain vigilant and always take preventative measures. The risk of this infection is very dangerous for the health and development of the baby. Toxoplasma infection can cause vision problems, learning difficulties, hydrocephalus disorders, and hearing loss.
In certain cases, this infection causes some infected babies to survive only a few days after birth. Pregnant women who are most at risk of developing toxoplasma infection are those who have a weak immune system and often interact with wild animals.
Transmission of this infection is generally characterized by several symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, general symptoms that accompany the flu, and muscle aches. But some people may not feel any symptoms. To find out the possibility of contracting this infection for certain, pregnant women who are at risk of infection are encouraged to undergo blood tests.
How to Avoid Toxoplasma Infection
Before being infected, there are several ways you can do to reduce these risks, including:
Washing hands after outdoor activities
Washing food ingredients and cooking utensils
Avoid eating raw food
Maintain cleanliness every day
Washing hands after activities in open public places, such as parks and sandy playgrounds, can help reduce the risk of infection. Try not to make direct contact with potentially infected animals, including pets. Don’t forget, you also have to wash your hands before and after processing food.
Always wash fruits and vegetables before processing and consuming them. Apart from being washed, fruits and vegetables are also recommended to be peeled to reduce the risk of infection. In addition, washing and cooking all frozen food until cooked before consumption can help reduce the risk of infection. After that, wash all cooking utensils in the kitchen after being used to process raw meat.
Avoid consuming raw or undercooked meat and eggs while pregnant. Make sure the meat is cooked at the right temperature. Cooked meat has clear liquid or gravy and not pink flesh. In addition, you should avoid consuming goat’s milk that is not pasteurized or consuming products made from similar milk.
To prevent transmission of infection, try to always wear gloves when you are gardening or taking care of plants. Then wash your hands with soap and warm water. Always maintain the cleanliness of the environment around the residence, so it is not susceptible to disease.
Be aware of the risk of transmission of infection from cats
Cats can become infected with the parasitic toxoplasma infection if they consume wild animals that have been infected or come in contact with other infected cat feces. Once infected, the parasite can multiply in the cat’s intestine, then produce feces that cause infection. Mild diarrhea and loss of appetite are common symptoms for cats infected with toxoplasma.
If you are pregnant and nurturing or living in the same house as a cat, there are a number of things to be aware of, including:
Clean cat litter every day
Give the cat dry food in packaging
Don’t touch stray cats
The first step you can take to prevent infection is to clean cat litter every day. We recommend wearing gloves when cleaning cat feces. After that wash your hands thoroughly. If possible, it’s better to ask someone else to take care of the cat
Dry food in containers or in cans is safer to give to cats than raw meat. Infected raw meat can cause toxoplasma infection in cats and risks transmitting it to humans. Most importantly, don’t forget to wash your hands afterwards.
Keep the cat away from the kitchen and food
Try not to let your cat enter the kitchen and family dining room to reduce the risk of your cat touching your food. In addition, avoid your footwear and all family members from the reach of the cat so that it is not used as a bed or toilet.
Try not to touch stray cats while pregnant. If your family has a play area in the form of sand outside the room, cover the area to avoid the possibility of stray cats defecating there.
In order to avoid the transmission of toxoplasma infection during pregnancy, you can check yourself before you get pregnant. If the infection occurs during pregnancy, immediately consult a doctor to get the right treatment. Don’t forget to take care of the health of your pets and avoid contact with wild animals.