Toxoplasmosis can affect your pregnancy and your unborn baby, but what is it and how can you avoid it?
Toxoplasmosis is caused by a parasite called toxoplasma gondii. Toxoplasmosis is an infection which causes few symptoms in a healthy adult, who may not even be aware of having caught it. However, it can have serious effects on an unborn child, including brain damage and blindness, especially if it is caught during the first three months of pregnancy. In pregnancy, it can also cause miscarriage or stillbirth.
This potentially dangerous disease is caused by an organism found in raw meat, cat faeces and contaminated soil, so you need to take extra care when you are pregnant or trying to conceive. To minimise the risk of contracting toxoplasmosis:
- Avoid eating raw or undercooked meat
- Take care when preparing meats not to mix raw and cooked meats. Use separate chopping boards for raw and cooked meats
- Store meats carefully in the fridge so that raw meat juices do not drip onto other foods
- Wash your hands if you have handled raw meat
- Wash all fruit and vegetables carefully
- Always wear gloves when gardening
- Get someone else to empty the cat-litter tray
- Always wash your hands after stroking your pet