Food Poisoning During Pregnancy - Topic Overview
Toxoplasmosis often has no
symptoms, or the symptoms are flu-like. You may have swollen lymph glands or
muscle aches and pains that last for a few days to several weeks.
- Are planning to become pregnant, consider being
tested for Toxoplasma gondii. If the test is positive,
it means that you have already been infected at some time in your life and you
probably do not have to worry about giving the infection to your future baby
(discuss this with your doctor). If the test is negative, take
precautions to avoid infection.
- If you are pregnant, you
and your doctor should discuss your chance of getting
toxoplasmosis. Your doctor may order a blood sample for testing.
If you are diagnosed with toxoplasmosis during your
pregnancy, you will be treated with antibiotics. If further testing shows that
your fetus is infected, you will be given antibiotics that are known to reduce
the impact of toxoplasmosis on the fetus.1
To help prevent toxoplasmosis:
- Avoid cat feces, in both the home and the
- If you have a cat and you are either pregnant or planning to
become pregnant soon, have someone else clean the cat litter box. If you must
clean the box yourself, do it daily. Wear gloves and a face mask, and wash your
- Make a habit of washing any table or counter
surfaces that a cat may have walked across.
- Consider keeping your
cat indoors. A cat who goes outdoors is likely to become infected with
Toxoplasma gondii by eating infected birds or rodents.
(Eating indoor mice also poses a risk.)
- When gardening or handling
soil, wear gloves and wash your hands afterward.
- Wash all foods
that could have had contact with cat feces, including commercial fruits and
- Eat only well-cooked or previously frozen meat. Avoid dried
meats. Sustained high or low temperatures are needed to kill Toxoplasma gondii in meat.
- Carefully wash your hands and all utensils after preparing raw
meat, poultry, seafood, fruits, or vegetables.
- Avoid untreated drinking water. This is a concern when you are in
the wilderness or are traveling to developing countries where drinking water is
Pregnant women may become much
more ill from food poisoning than other people, so it is important that you
prevent food poisoning in your home by taking precautions when preparing and
storing foods. Perishable foods, such as eggs, meats, poultry, fish, shellfish,
milk, and milk products, should be treated with extra care.
U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends the following steps to prevent food
- Shop safely. Bag raw meat, poultry, or fish
separately from other food items. Drive home immediately after finishing your
shopping so that you can store all foods properly.
- Prepare foods
safely. Wash your hands before and after handling food. Also wash them after
using the bathroom or changing diapers. Wash fresh fruits and vegetables by
rinsing them well with running water. If possible, use two cutting boards-one
for fresh produce and the other for raw meat, poultry, and seafood. Otherwise,
be sure to wash the cutting board with hot, soapy water between each use. You
can also wash your knives and cutting boards in the dishwasher to disinfect
- Store foods safely. Cook, refrigerate, or freeze meat,
poultry, eggs, fish, and ready-to-eat foods within 2 hours. Make sure your
refrigerator is set at
40°F (4°C) or colder.
- Cook foods safely. Use a clean meat thermometer to determine
whether foods are cooked to a safe temperature. Reheat leftovers to at least
165°F (74°C). Do not eat
undercooked hamburger, and be aware of the risk of food poisoning from raw fish
(including sushi), clams, and oysters.
- Serve foods safely. Keep
cooked hot foods hot [140°F (60°C) or above] and cold foods cold [40°F (4°C) or below].
- Follow labels on food packaging.
Food packaging labels provide information about when to use the food and how to
store it. Reading food labels and following safety instructions will reduce
your chances of becoming ill with food poisoning.
- When in doubt, throw it out. If you are not sure whether a food
is safe, don't eat it. Reheating food that is contaminated will not make it
safe. Don't taste suspicious food. It may smell and look fine but still may not
be safe to eat.