PreventionBy Mayo Clinic staff
Certain precautions can help prevent toxoplasmosis:
- Wear gloves when you garden or handle soil. Wear gloves whenever you work outdoors, and then wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water, especially before you eat or prepare food.
- 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, thoroughly wash cutting boards, knives and other kitchen utensils in hot, soapy water to prevent cross contamination of other foods. Wash your hands carefully after handling raw meat.
- Wash all fruits and vegetables. Scrub fresh fruits and vegetables carefully, especially if you're eating 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 children, be sure to cover their sandbox whenever they're done playing. Cats may defecate in an open sandbox.
For cat lovers
If you're 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.
- Don't adopt 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, always wear gloves and a face mask to change the litter and then wash your hands well with soap and hot water. Change the litter box every day so that any excreted cysts don't have time to become infectious. Disinfect the litter box with scalding water — chemical disinfectants aren't effective against T. gondii — but don't set the box on the kitchen counter or allow your cat on the kitchen counter.
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- FDA clears first test for recent infection with toxoplasmosis parasite. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm255922.htm. Accessed May 23, 2011.