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Experts Corner

Perinatal Pathology

Toxoplasmosis Risk
By Carolyn M. Salafia, MD

Carolyn Salafia, MDQ. We have had an indoor cat for 7 years now. I know my wife is not to change the kitty litter anymore and that's fine. i am just worried. I have seen all kinds of stats that say in America the odds of complications from this are 1 in 1,000 and some that say different things depending on the trimester you are in. I saw one that said to get rid of the cat now and so on. I just want to feel at ease could you help me? Also how often should I change the kitty litter? Most things I have read say it's not a big issue.

A. One thing that could set your mind at ease would be a blood test to see if your wife already has IgG antibodies to toxoplasmosis. That would suggest she's already seen the organism at some point in the past, and that she had protective antibodies in her circulation already.

Most of the time, yes, I agree that especially in this country, toxoplasmosis is not a big issue. First reasons that I am not entirely clear about, it tends to be a bigger problem, more concern raised clinically, in France. But that blood test might be a helpful thing to have right now. It's called a "titer", and it would check for the levels of antibodies to this organism. IgM is commonly considered to reflect more recent exposure to the organism while IgG reflects exposure at any point in life, often more remote exposure, and is the type of antibody that is often considered to be more protective regarding future infection.

I don't suggest that this would get you off the hook for cleaning the litterbox though. Take care of yourself and let us know that you are both continuing to be okay.

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