Can I catch any infections from my pets that might affect the baby?

The most important infection to consider is toxoplasmosis. This is a parasitic disease passed on by cats, more rarely sheep and pigs. The commonest route of transmission is, however, through eating undercooked pork. Only about 20% of women in the UK are immune to toxoplasmosis whereas in France the figure is much higher, around 80%. If you are in close contact with cats and develop a feverish illness with swollen glands (like glandular fever) in pregnancy then you should see your GP or a doctor at the hospital. A blood test would suggest whether you are immune to it. If you have had the disease while pregnant, then you may need antibiotic treatment for the baby''s benefit. This is because toxoplasma can cross the placenta and can cause poor growth, blindness, epilepsy and learning difficulties in babies that are affected. However most babies exposed to the disease seem to escape any severe consequences.
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