Question and answer
Certain precautions can help prevent toxoplasmosis:
- Wear gloves when you garden or handle soil. Wear gloves whenever you work outdoors and wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water afterward.
- Don't eat raw or undercooked meat. Meat, especially lamb, pork and beef, can harbor toxoplasma organisms. Don't taste meat before it's fully cooked. Avoid raw cured meat.
- Wash kitchen utensils thoroughly. After preparing raw meat, wash cutting boards, knives and other utensils in hot, soapy water to prevent cross contamination of other foods. Wash your hands after handling raw meat.
- Wash all fruits and vegetables. Scrub fresh fruits and vegetables, especially if you plan to eat them raw. Remove peels when possible, but only after washing.
- Don't drink unpasteurized milk. Unpasteurized milk and other dairy products may contain toxoplasma parasites.
- Cover children's sandboxes. If you have a sandbox, cover it when your children aren't playing in it to keep cats from using it as a litter box.
For cat lovers
If you're pregnant or otherwise at risk of toxoplasmosis or its complications, take these steps to protect yourself:
- Help your cat stay healthy. Keep your cat indoors and feed it dry or canned cat food, not raw meat. Cats can become infected after eating infected prey or undercooked meat that contains the parasite.
- Avoid stray cats or kittens. Although all stray animals need good homes, it's best to let someone else adopt them. Most cats don't show signs of T. gondii infection, and although they can be tested for toxoplasmosis, it may take up to a month to get the results.
- Have someone else clean your cat's litter box. If that's not possible, wear gloves and a face mask to change the litter. Then wash your hands well. Change the litter daily so that excreted cysts don't have time to become infectious.