Toxoplasmosis During Pregnancy

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Toxoplasmosis is a common infection caused by a parasite. You get it from eating undercooked meat, eating unwashed vegetables (grown where an infected cat has left droppings), or touching infected cat droppings.

Most healthy people who get the disease don't know they have it. It is very mild. But problems can happen when you are pregnant and get the disease. It can cause serious problems in an unborn baby. If you are pregnant, take steps to prevent infection.

Your unborn baby may not get infected even if you get toxoplasmosis while pregnant. If tests show that your unborn baby is infected, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics. After you have been infected, you can't get the disease again.

Steps you can take to prevent toxoplasmosis

Toxoplasmosis during pregnancy can put your baby at risk for serious problems. Infection usually occurs from contact with infected cat feces or from eating undercooked meat or unwashed vegetables (grown where an infected cat has left droppings).

Everyone should take steps to prevent food poisoning by storing and preparing foods properly. In addition, during pregnancy take these extra steps to prevent toxoplasmosis.

  • If you have a cat, ask someone else to clean the litter box while you are pregnant.

    If no one else can do it, wear gloves and clean the litter box daily. Wash your hands well with soap and warm water afterward.

  • Wear gloves when working in the garden or handling soil.

    Wash your hands well with soap and warm water after outdoor activities, especially before you eat or prepare food.

  • Wash all fresh fruits and vegetables by rinsing them well with running water.
  • Handle raw meat safely.

    If possible, wear clean disposable gloves when you touch raw meat. Wash cutting boards, sinks, knives, and other utensils that might have touched the raw meat. Wash your hands well with soap and warm water afterward.

  • Make sure the meat you eat is well-cooked.

    Use a meat thermometer to be sure foods are cooked to a safe temperature.

  • Avoid untreated drinking water.

    This is a concern when you are in the wilderness or travel to countries where drinking water is not treated.


Current as of: July 10, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board
All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.

The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.