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Health Tip: Cats and Your Unborn

Avoid their litter box while you're pregnant

(HealthDayNews) -- If you're pregnant, you're probably already aware that your cat may be carrying a parasite that could harm your fetus.

Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by exposure to the toxoplasma gondii parasite, which cats can pick up from eating infected prey or meat, or by coming into contact with infected feces. In adult humans, toxoplasmosis usually only causes swollen glands, but if a pregnant woman comes into contact with the parasite, it can lead to fetal hydroencephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or lesions in the retina or brain.

But veterinarians say it's probably not necessary to get rid of a beloved pet to protect your baby's health. The School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California at Davis offers this advice:

If you're pregnant, avoid all contact with cat feces, keep cats indoors, feed them a diet of commercial food, and cook meat to at least 151 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, you should wear rubber gloves when gardening in outdoor soil that may be contaminated by cat feces, and always wash produce thoroughly.

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