Wednesday 1 November 2023

Friend tells pregnant woman that she is a bad mother because she won't get rid of her cats

NEWS AND COMMENT: This is a story which probably happens not infrequently inside homes across the planet. And it's a bit sad that two workplace friends fell out when one of them became pregnant and insisted on keeping her four cats despite the protestations of her friend.

Pregnant women don't have to get rid of their cat because there are alternative ways of dealing with a potential infection of Toxoplasma gondii which can be highly effective and protect the baby completely.

And what is doubly upsetting is that other workplace women agreed with her friend that he should give up her cats. It seems that they might have ostracised her to a certain extent.

The woman in question has lived with cats all her life. She has four cats; all rescues by the way which is great. She was baffled by her friend insisting that she get rid of the cats to protect her unborn baby.

The story comes from The pregnant woman is 30 years of age and her friend, Josie, is 28. The pregnant woman has been married for 10 years.

As sooner as her friend found out that she was pregnant she went into a long description of why the cats had to go and why pregnant women should not change the cat litter boxes to protect the unborn child.

She was somewhat baffled by the advice. I think she knew about toxoplasmosis already and as she had grown up with cats all her life, she thought that if she was going to get the disease she would have been infected already. A good percentage of people are infected by toxoplasmosis without realising it because the disease is asymptomatic.

But the big point is this one: she's got a husband who can change the litter box! There was no need for this pregnant woman to take any chances.

The point here is that pregnant women don't have to get rid of their cats because there are better ways of dealing with this potential health problem concerning the unborn child. Although this potential health problem is, I agree, a serious one.

Another point worth making is that nearly all toxoplasmosis infections in humans come from eating undercooked food, handling uncooked food or drinking unpasteurised milk. The source is food rather than the domestic cat.

The problem is this: the parasite which causes a Toxoplasma gondii infection can cross the placenta and infect the developing foetus where it can cause congenital toxoplasmosis.

The severity of the infection depends upon the gestation age at which the mother becomes infected.

If the infection is early, it is generally more severe. The unborn child can experience a range of complications including birth defects, stillbirth or miscarriage. The birth defects can include hearing loss, intellectual disabilities, blindness, I inflammation, visual impairments or neurological disorders.

Infected unborn children, once born may not show symptoms at birth but they can develop complications later in life such as hearing problems or cognitive development problems.

Common sense precautions are the answer. Pregnant women should practise good hygiene through hand washing after handling raw meat and, as mentioned, avoiding contact with cat litter boxes. Raw vegetables should be washed thoroughly.

Lastly, domestic cats get a bad rap for being a vector of Toxoplasma gondii. They are only infective for about 10 days in their entire life. It is not as if they are carrying the disease all their lives and can spread it to hundreds of people. It doesn't work like that. People who provide advice like this woman should understand toxoplasmosis a little more thoroughly before handing down advice to pregnant women.

Toxoplasmosis is a zoonosis or a zoonotic disease because it can infect both animals and people and cross between them.


P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

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