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Family Cats and Pregnant Women: Take Measures to Prevent Toxoplasmosis Infection

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Prevention Recommendations to Keep Mom Safe

Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by ingesting raw or undercooked meats, or direct contact with infected feline feces.  The risks to your baby increase as your pregnancy develops.

Indoor cats pose less of a risk because they are not hunting small rodents while you sleep.  Outdoor cats are a greater risk because they hunt and can bury their infected stool in your yard, garden or flower beds.

See your veterinarian early in your pregnancy to discuss your potential risks of becoming infected with toxoplasmosis.  Your veterinarian can make further recommendations to prevent your exposure to this harmful parasite.

Nothing must spoil the joys of becoming a new parent.  Not even your pets.  But family cats with normal, every day habits can pose a risk to expectant women.  Women's immune systems can be disturbed by a parasite carried in fecal matter.  If you're the primary caretaker of your family's feline friend it may be time to ask for help.

Toxoplasmosis is a disease that can be transmitted from cats to humans by ingestion of undercooked meat products or contact with the stool of a contaminated cat. Toxoplasmosis can cause serious problems during pregnancy.

Cats allowed to roam outdoors are more likely to carry the parasite responsible for the toxoplasmosis infection.  They can hunt and kill mice and rats during the nighttime hours.  When the rodents are infected with the Toxoplasma parasite, a cat ingesting the diseased rodent can spread this infection through its fecal matter to humans.  Pregnant women have an increased sensitivity to the dangers of that contamination.

Cats living in an outdoor environment are also defecating outdoors.  They habitually bury their stool in flower beds, gardens and other soft soil areas.  Women who are pregnant must be aware that contact with dirt that has been used by an infected cat is also a danger.  Keeping cats indoors will eliminate their exposure to potentially infected rodents and decrease your chance of coming into contact with the toxoplasmosis parasite.

"More that 60 million men, women, and children in the U.S. carry the Toxoplasma parasite, but very few have symptoms because the immune system usually keeps the parasite from causing illness," advises the United States Center for Disease Control.  Appropriate testing can help your doctor determine the potential impact on your immune system.

The Center for Disease Control recommends that specific measures be taken to prevent exposure to the toxoplasmosis infection.  The CDC's preventative measures include:

  • Avoid changing the cat's litter yourself whenever possible.
  • Wear gloves if you must change it yourself.
  • Wash your hands immediately after changing the litter.
  • Wear gloves when you are outside gardening, planting flowers, vegetables, weeding or in contact with soil that could be a potential source of contamination.
  • Keep litter boxes outside your home covered.
  • Delegate changing the cat's litter to another family member.
  • Change the litter on a daily basis because the parasite is most infectious in just-eliminated fecal matter for at least the first five days.
  • Keep Fluffy or Garfield inside your house, apartment or condo throughout your pregnancy.
  • Wear gloves and/or wash your hands thoroughly after handling raw meats.

"The risk to the baby increases the later in the pregnancy the new infection is acquired," says Michael Richards, DVM.  Check in with your veterinarian early in your pregnancy to ensure a healthy infant.

Exclusive Offer

Return of the Rattlesnake Vaccination!

South Valley Animal Clinic is excited to announce the return of the Red Rock Biologics Rattlesnake Vaccination!  This vaccination is great for dog's planning on hiking, camping or just exploring the bosque.  Please call our office for scheduling or more information (505) 873-2590. 

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South Valley Animal Clinic Joins PACA's New Public Spay/Neuter Program

We are excited to announce our support of the 'Fix the 505' program.  Fix the 505 is a small scale FREE spay/neuter program for low income pet owners.  PACA (People's Anti-Cruelty Association) selected a few local veterinarian clinic's, including South Valley Animal Clinic to participate in this necessary program.  Please watch the short video above or visit http://paca-aar.org/index.php/donate/sponsor-a-spay for more information!

06/01/2015 UPDATE

This program has been restricted to South Valley residents struggling to spay or neuter their pets.  In order to get your pets scheduled, please request a PACA Voucher from The Animal Humane Society or from a Bernalillo County Animal Control officer .  Please call (505) 255-5523 for more information!

Testimonials

Dr. Heite and the rest of SVAC staff, Thank You! From the bottom of our hearts for your AMAZING care for our dogs. You're an awesome team, and we trust you above anyone else to provide immediate, compassionate, and reliable solutions. We cannot begin to thank you for going above and beyond to help Sissy. We know she has an amazing medical team. 

With heartfelt appreciation, Sanchez Family
Albuquerque, NM

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