Toxoplasmosis | Prevention

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How can I keep from getting toxoplasmosis?

The following are some things you can do to protect yourself from getting toxoplasmosis:

  • Wear gloves when you work in the dirt. Cover children's sandboxes when not in use. Cats often use gardens and sandboxes as litter boxes.
  • After outdoor activities, wash your hands with soap and warm water, especially before you eat or prepare food.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly after handling raw meat, soil, sand or cats.
  • Control flies and cockroaches as much as possible. They can spread contaminated soil or cat feces onto food.
  • Use hot soapy water to clean cutting boards, dishes and other items after they have been in contact with raw meat, poultry, seafood, unwashed fruits and vegetables.
  • Avoid rubbing your eyes or face when preparing food, and wipe the counter clean afterwards.
  • Cook meat and poultry until it is no longer pink in the center or until the juices run clear (160°F on a meat thermometer). Do not taste meat before it is fully cooked.
  • When dining out, do not eat undercooked meat.
  • Avoid eating unwashed fruits and vegetables.
  • Avoid drinking untreated water, especially when traveling in less developed countries. Also avoid drinking unpasteurized (raw) goat's milk, raw eggs or unpasteurized products made from goat's milk.

I have a cat. Can I keep it?

Yes. If your immune system is weak, here are some things you can do to keep from getting toxoplasmosis:

  • Keep your cat indoors so that it does not pick up the toxoplasmosis parasite from the animals it hunts.
  • If possible, have someone else take care of your cat while you are pregnant.
  • Feed your cat only dry or canned cat food. Like humans, cats can become infected with toxoplasmosis by eating raw or undercooked meat.
  • Do not bring a new cat into your house if the animal might have been an outdoor cat or might have been fed raw meat. Do not handle stray cats or kittens.
  • Have a person who is healthy and not pregnant change your cat's litter box, and then disinfect it with boiling water for 5 minutes. If you have to change the cat litter yourself, wear gloves while you do it. When you finish, wash your hands well with soap and warm water. Clean the litter box daily.

Cats only spread toxoplasmosis in their droppings for a few weeks in their lives (usually after they are first infected), so there is no benefit to having your cat's droppings tested for the toxoplasmosis parasite.

Source

Congenital Toxoplasmosis by J Jones, M.D., M.P.H., A Lopez, M.H.S. and M Wilson, M.S. (American Family Physician May 15, 2003, http://www.aafp.org/afp/20030515/2131.html)

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 05/14
Created: 09/00

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