Pregnancy concerns: Toxoplasmosis

Toxoplasmosis is an infection caused by the Toxoplasma Gondi parasite, which can pose danger to a foetus. Toxoplasmosis is typically contracted only from animals or uncooked meat. The parasite can also be found in cats’ faeces, which is why a pregnant woman should never clean the litter box.

Why is toxoplasmosis dangerous during pregnancy?

Toxoplasmosis can cause neurological problems in a developing foetus. The risk of passing the infection to the unborn child is higher in the later stages of pregnancy. If the parasite was contracted at least a few months before getting pregnant, risks are minimal. Hearing difficulty, learning problems and eye damage are common problems that babies might develop after birth due to toxoplasmosis.

Main symptoms of toxoplasmosis:

  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Muscular pain
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Inflammation in the back of the eye

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How common is toxoplasmosis?

The incidence rate of toxoplasmosis in countries that eat uncooked meat or cheese are higher. Since the effects of the infection can be very mild, it can be mistaken for a simple flu or cold. It is important that pregnant women take measures in order to prevent getting infected with the Toxoplasma virus. Once there is an infection present, the treatment options are very limited.

How to treat a toxoplasmosis infection during pregnancy?

First of all it is best to avoid contracting the virus by following some simple guidelines:

  • Cook all meat produce thoroughly. Avoid raw meat and unpasteurized cheese.
  • Always wash the fruits and vegetables right before cooking or consumption.
  • Use gloves when gardening or washing dirt off any object.
  • Avoid cleaning your pet cat’s litter box. Eggs of the parasite can infect a person up to 24 hours after excretion.

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The only available medication for treating congenital Toxoplasma infection is long-term antibiotic treatment, which can decrease the chance of congenital infection. The doctor will prescribe the necessary treatment based on the results of a blood test, which helps to establish if the pregnant woman was infected before or after getting pregnant.

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