What is toxoplasmosis?
Toxoplasmosis is a disease you get when you are infected by a parasite called toxoplasma gondii. This microscopic parasite is usually spread easily through cat litter, infected soil, and raw meat. The consequences of getting toxoplasmosis during your pregnancy (stillbirths and long-lasting neurological damage) are not to be trifled with.
Be careful! I have noticed first-hand that doctors in the UAE do not always take this threat seriously.
Although my antenatal results clearly showed that I was not immune to the infection, the two doctors that I saw in July before and following the test results did not deem it necessary to warn me about the risks. Thankfully one of my friends was in her third trimester and told me everything I needed to know! The first doctor who mentioned it to me was the doctor I saw at home for the Down Syndrome’s exam, 5 weeks after doing my antenatal tests!
Shall I eat raw vegetable and fruit?
In your first trimester, your doctor should prescribe a series of antenatal tests that include a search for toxoplasma gondii antibodies. If it is not the case, simply run away from the clinic!
If the search is positive, you can stop reading this article.
If it is negative, you have never been infected before and need to be careful. This does not mean you should not eat salads. It means you should disinfect your vegetables properly.
If I am not immune to the infection, how do I clean my vegetables and fruit?
You can eat raw vegetables and fruit throughout your pregnancy as long as you clean them thoroughly. Unless you filter tap water, you will have to clean them using bottled water.
I have 3 preferred techniques. Depending on how busy and how clumsy you are, choose your favourite one! Don’t forget to rinse your food a second time so it does not taste of Dakin’s solution, bleach, or vinegar.
What if I go out? Can I have a salad?
If you go out and want to stay on the safe side, ask a (trustworthy) member of staff whether the vegetables are sanitized. Most healthy cafes use sanitizing tablets. Although these will help fight parasites, they may also wash your greens off their vitamins. All the more reasons to make sure you supplement properly.
The same goes for your Spinney’s take-away salads. They are usually sanitized. But feel free to double check!