What is toxoplasmosis?
Toxoplasmosis is an infection caused by a parasite known as toxoplasma gondii. It is more common in warm climate countries. More than 50% of population in Central and South Europe, Africa, South America and Asian has been infected with toxoplasmosis at some time or another.
One important source of toxoplasmosis is from cat’s faeces. Cats are natural hosts to the parasites which get infected by eating raw meat, infected prey, drinking unpasteurized milk or contaminated water. Once that happens, the eggs of the parasites grow within the cat’s intestines and are excreted through the cats’faeces. These parasites could live within the soil or litter for up to many months. During which it could then contaminate nearby fruits, vegetables or water.
How does toxoplasmosis spread?
- Eating raw and undercooked meat
- Drinking or eating food and water contaminated with the parasite
- Handling contaminated soil, food and water
- Handling contaminated cat litter or faeces
What are the symptoms associated with toxoplasmosis infection?
Most women who are healthy have none or minimal symptoms after contracting toxoplasmosis. Possible symptoms include:
- Swollen lymph nodes
How do I avoid getting toxoplasmosis infection?
You need to practice basic good hygiene:
- Wash thoroughly food and vegetables before eating
- Clean your kitchen counter, cutting boards, kitchen utensils well especially after handling raw meat, poultry or seafood.
- Use gloves when working in the garden
- Keep your cats out of the kitchen especially the kitchen counter and dining table.
- Avoid raw or partially cooked meat
Should I get rid of my cats?
No, you do not need to get rid of your cat! Just practice good hygiene:
- Ask someone else to clean the cat litter daily for you. If you need to do it, wear disposable gloves and clean your hands afterwards
- Wash your hands thoroughly after playing with your cat
- Try to avoid playing with stray cats or get a new kitten during pregnancy
- Avoid feeding your cat raw or undercooked meat to avoid it from potentially getting infected
How do I know whether I have toxoplasmosis infections?
As most women have no symptoms at all, most infections go unnoticed. However, if your doctor suspects you to have toxoplasmosis, the infection could be confirmed by doing a blood test which could detect antibodies in your blood that develop after an infection.
Is toxoplasmosis routinely screened during pregnancy?
This differs from one country to another. However, in Malaysia, toxoplasmosis is not routinely screened during pregnancy.
What could happen to my baby if I had toxoplasmosis infection during pregnancy?
The risk of transmission and abnormalities to your baby depends on how far along you are in pregnancy when you contracted the infection. During first, second and third trimester the risk of transmitting the infection is 15, 30 and 60% respectively. However, the risk of the baby developing severe fetal abnormalities is highest in the first trimester as the baby’s major organs are still developing during this vital period. There is a risk of miscarriage, death inside the womb or shortly after birth. In addition, there is a risk of toxoplasmosis affecting your baby’s brain leading to developmental delays, cerebral palsy and epilepsy. The baby’s eyes and hearing could also be affected.
What is the treatment for toxoplasmosis during pregnancy?
Antibiotics will be given to you during pregnancy to reduce the risk of transmission to your baby. Your doctor may then refer you to a feto-maternal obstetrician who may then proceed to do an amniocentesis and detail scan to detect any evidence of infection or abnormalities in your baby. Even after birth, your baby will be tested toxoplasmosis. If tested positive, he / she will be given treatment and follow up regularly to detect any health problems.
[easyazon-image align=”none” asin=”B006M49TNM” locale=”us” height=”160″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/519T-AWB9pL._SL160_.jpg” width=”120″] [easyazon-image align=”none” asin=”1554073804″ locale=”us” height=”160″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/5143oayY1iL._SL160_.jpg” width=”123″] [easyazon-image align=”none” asin=”0984480404″ locale=”us” height=”160″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51X%2Bly6M1kL._SL160_.jpg” width=”107″] [easyazon-image align=”none” asin=”1594745730″ locale=”us” height=”160″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/516f2ZI9BrL._SL160_.jpg” width=”140″] [easyazon-image align=”none” asin=”B0018SY6US” locale=”us” height=”160″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51Z4TD264XL._SL160_.jpg” width=”121″]