When pregnant, you’ll want to make sure someone else changes the litter box daily, as the parasite becomes active one to five days after the feces are deposited. If you must change the litter box yourself, wear disposable gloves and wash your hands well when you’re done. You’ll want to keep your indoor cat inside, away from wild animals, raw meat and other cats with toxoplasmosis. You’ll also want to avoid handling stray cats and resist the urge to introduce a new cat into the family, just in case.
The garden is another place to beware of toxoplasmosis—outdoor cats can use your garden as a litter box. If you must garden, wear gloves to protect yourself. If you have older children, make sure you keep the sandbox covered to keep cats out of there as well.
The threat of toxoplasmosis can be found in the refrigerator. You’ll want to avoid handling raw meats and make sure you wash your hands thoroughly after handling. Avoid un-pasteurized milk and undercooked meats since the parasite can be present in the meat and milk of warm-blooded animals such as pigs, sheep and cows.
Your health care provider may test you to see if you have already been exposed to toxoplasmosis, which would mean your immunity would protect your unborn child. However, it’s always better to be safe than sorry—and what better way to get out of cleaning the cat box for nine months?
Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis Virus (LCMV)
This virus is carried by rodents—rats, mice, hamsters and guinea pigs can transmit this disease to you and your family. You can contract it by inhaling dust from an infected animal or by coming in contact with infected bedding or fur through a break in your skin.
For normal, healthy people, LCMV isn’t an issue. This virus can cause no symptoms or can cause headaches, fevers, chills and muscle aches. In severe cases meningitis (swelling of the spinal cord and brain) can occur, but it’s very rare. However, if you become infected with LCMV while you’re pregnant, you can transmit the virus to your unborn child, resulting in miscarriage or severe birth defects.
How is it contracted? Usually, LCMV is found in wild mice. However, your pet rodent may have come in contact with wild mice at some point, be it at the pet store or if a wild rodent gets into your home and sniffs noses with your caged pets.
Though the risk of contamination is low, it’s important to protect yourself when you’re pregnant. Handling the rodent and cleaning their cages can put you at risk for contracting LCMV. Therefore, it’s important to limit your contact with rodents and their feces during your pregnancy.