Written by Dr. Susan Nelson
Dr. Susan Nelson of Kansas State University wants to debunk the myth that cats and pregnant women can’t safely coexist.
A positive pregnancy test often comes with a negative view of the family cat due to toxoplasmosis fears-and not without reason.
Felines are definitive hosts of Toxoplasmosis gondii, which, according to the centers for Disease Control and Prevention, infects an estimated 60 million plus people in the United States. Most infected people with healthy immune systems experience only mild symptoms, if any. But in pregnant women, toxoplasmosis can cause miscarriage, stillbirth and severe eye and nervous system problems in the child.
Despite the risks, Susan Nelson, DVM, clinical professor at Kansas State University’s Veterinary Health Center, says in a recent university release that many pregnant women have been mistakenly advised to give up their cats.
“Toxoplasmosis can be a devastating disease, but with proper precautions, a woman does not need to rehome her cat if she becomes pregnant,” Dr Nelson says.
The release notes that cats aren’t even the most common way people become infected. Raw meat, unpasteurized goat milk, raw vegetables, contaminated water and gardening are the most common sources.