Animals and pregnancy
Some things to be aware of about animals when you’re pregnant
Handling most animals is fine when you’re pregnant – so need to quarantine the family pet! You just need to take a few precautions to avoid infection from cats, sheep and pigs.
Cats are fine (phew!), but their faeces may contain toxoplasma - an organism that causes toxoplasmosis infection and can damage your baby.
So the good news is you can keep fussing your cat - it’s a lovely way to relax and it beats cleaning the litter tray, which is one job you should avoid. Here are top tips for reducing the risk of infection:
• Avoid emptying cat litter trays
• If nobody else can empty the litter tray, use disposable rubber gloves – trays should be cleaned daily and filled with boiling water for five minutes
• Avoid close contact with sick cats
• wear gloves when gardening (even if you don’t have a cat) in case the soil is contaminated with faeces
• Likewise, wash your hands and gloves after gardening
• If you do come into contact with cat faeces, just wash your hands very thoroughly
Cute though they are, lambs and sheep can carry an organism called Chlamydia psittaci, which is known to cause miscarriage in ewes. They also carry toxoplasma. It’s best to avoid lambing or milking ewes, and all contact with newborn lambs. If you experience flu-like symptoms after coming into contact with sheep, talk to your doctor.
It’s possible pigs could be a source of hepatitis E infection, which is dangerous for mums-to-be. So while you’re pregnant steer well clear of pigs and pig faeces. The good news is, eating cooked pork products is completely safe.