TOXOPLASMOSIS IN CATS - IS YOUR CHILD AT RISK?
Now that your baby is finally here and will soon start crawling and walking and exploring the house, you may be wondering about the risks of toxoplasmosis in cats to your child.
When you were pregnant your doctor most likely told you about toxoplasmosis, the dangers of the infection to your unborn child and how to avoid getting infected. But what about the risk to your baby now that he or she is born?
WHAT IS TOXOPLASMOSIS?
So what is toxoplasmosis exactly? It is a disease caused by a tiny parasite called Toxoplasma gondii. Cats are one of the more common hosts for this parasite. One way people can catch toxoplasmosis is by touching or coming into contact with infected cat poop (feces).
According to the Centres for Disease Control, your child may become infected and not show any symptoms because their healthy immune system keeps the parasite from causing illness.
However, others may exhibit "flu-like" symptoms like fever and sore throat including swollen lymph glands, headaches, and muscle aches and pains that can last for several months.
Severe toxoplasmosis infections which are more likely to occur in children with weak immune systems can lead to damage to the brain, eyes, or other organs.
HOW CAN YOU PREVENT TOXOPLASMOSIS & KEEP YOUR CHILD SAFE?
It is important to note that if your cat is always kept indoors and never fed raw or under-cooked meat the chances of getting infected are very slim.
Here are a few suggestions on how you can keep your child safe:
- Prevent your child from gaining access to the litter box.
- Change the cat litter frequently.
- Always wash your hands after cleaning out the litter box and before you touch your child.
- Keep your cat indoors at all times if possible.
- Do not feed your cats raw or undercooked meats.
- Keep outdoor sandboxes and play areas covered.
Long before your baby starts crawling or your toddler starts exploring you need to think about the location of the cat litter box and how you will prevent access.
One option is to use a baby gate to block access to the room with the litter box. However, gates can be cumbersome and inconvenient when it comes down to isolating a room that requires frequent access like a laundry room.
When it comes to keeping your little ones out of the room with the litter box, Door Buddy is the easy and convenient solution.
The Door Buddy door latch will keep the door open wide enough so cats can wander in and out, but narrow enough so babies and toddlers cannot enter.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU SUSPECT A TOXOPLASMOSIS INFECTION?
Call your doctor if your child is experiencing symptoms of toxoplasmosis, especially if your child has a weak immune system. Your doctor can do a blood test that will detect the antibodies to the parasite and can advise you on proper treatment.
Even though Toxoplasmosis in cats is a real and scary disease, the infection rarely causes problems in healthy babies, toddlers, or children.
Fortunately, by taking just these few precautionary measures, you can greatly minimize the risks and therefore allow your child to enjoy the companionship and friendship that your favorite feline provides.
Read more about how to introduce cats and babies to achieve a purrrfect relationship.