Food Poisoning During Pregnancy - Topic Overview
Toxoplasmosis is caused by the
parasite Toxoplasma gondii. A pregnant woman can give
toxoplasmosis to her fetus. Fetal toxoplasmosis can cause miscarriage,
stillbirth, and birth defects.
You can acquire the parasite by
accidentally swallowing Toxoplasma gondii eggs from soil
or other contaminated surfaces. This can happen by putting your hands to your
mouth after gardening, cleaning a cat's litter box, or touching anything that
has come into contact with cat feces.
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.
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