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Chelsea at Crunch Gym

Forty Weeks of Fitness!

Chelsea, our pregnancy fitness expert, is a certified personal trainer at Crunch gym in San Francisco, California. She gave birth to her daughter, Madeira Re, in July 2006. Read more

Pet and Animal Safety

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Listeria bacteria are found in soil, ground water, plants, and animals. They can survive harsh conditions such as refrigeration, preservatives (such as salt), and oxygen deprivation; however, they are easily destroyed by cooking. Foods often associated with listeriosis include unpasteurized milk and raw milk products, raw and smoked seafood, and any ready-to-eat processed foods such as hot dogs and luncheon or deli meats.

Pregnant women are 20 times more susceptible to listeriosis than other adults, probably due to their weakened immune systems, and make up 27 percent of all cases. Exposure to the listeria bacteria can cause fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, upset stomach, and sometimes confusion, loss of balance, or convulsions. If the bacteria cross the placenta, they can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, and health problems after birth.

Salmonella bacteria are spread through direct or indirect contact with the feces of animals and humans. Foods most often involved with salmonella poisoning include unpasteurized milk and raw milk products, raw or undercooked meat, raw or undercooked eggs, raw sprouts, unwashed fruits and vegetables, and cream desserts and fillings. Infection causes headache, diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, chills, fever, and vomiting. The dehydration caused by these symptoms can result in miscarriage or preterm labor.

Toxoplasma gondii, or T. gondii, is a parasite cats pick up from the stool of other infected cats or from eating raw, infected meat. The cats then shed the parasite in their stool, which you may come into contact with when changing the litter box or touching contaminated ground soil. Avoid contact with both of these during your pregnancy; however, if that's not possible, be sure to wear gloves and wash your hands well after. You also should avoid eating under-cooked meat, touching your eyes or mouth with your hands if they are contaminated, or handling or eating raw vegetables from a garden where the soil has been contaminated.

If you have been infected with T. gondii previously, you probably developed immunity to the parasite - between 10 and 20 percent of women of childbearing age are immune. A simple test will determine your susceptibility. Symptoms of toxoplasmosis include a low-grade fever with a rash, muscle aches, headache, and possible swelling of the lymph nodes. If you are infected while pregnant, it can cause mental retardation, learning disabilities, and blindness in your baby, as well as stillbirth or preterm labor.

Pregnancy is a time to focus extra care and attention to your health and safety, and contact with pets should be included in your vigilance. Always remember to wear gloves when there is a chance you'll come into contact with any fecal matter, wash your hands thoroughly, cook your meat well, and wash all raw fruits and vegetables.

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