Toxoplasmosis is a parasitic infection that can be transmitted to humans through the consumption of raw or undercooked meat, contact with infected cat feces, or exposure to contaminated water. It isn’t particularly dangerous for healthy adults, but it can have serious consequences for people with weakened immune systems, such as pregnant women and people with HIV. In this article, you will learn more about this disease and how to avoid contracting it.
Table of Contents
- Toxoplasmosis at a glance
- How is Toxoplasmosis Transmitted?
- Risk of Toxoplasmosis During Pregnancy
- Effects of Toxoplasmosis on Children During Pregnancy
- How to Diagnose Toxoplasmosis Infection
- Treatment of Toxoplasmosis in Pregnancy
- Prevention of Toxoplasmosis During Pregnancy
Toxoplasmosis at a glance
- Infectious disease
- Transmission from birds and mammals
- Humans and animals are intermediate
- The intestine of the final host cat
- The rate of infection increases with age
- Immunity in case of one infection
How is Toxoplasmosis Transmitted?
This parasite lives in the muscles of all domestic and farm animals and is also infected by eating contaminated human meat. Therefore, pregnant women are advised to avoid eating raw meat such as sausages and sausages. Also, this parasite can be transmitted through vegetables, so it is necessary to wash and disinfect vegetables.
Transmission through cats
This parasite forms its eggs (oocytes) inside the cat’s intestine. This parasite enters the cat’s body by eating infected meat. Eggs are excreted through cat feces, and if human hands are contaminated with them, they can also make humans sick.
If the oocytes enter the soil through feces, they can survive in it for a long time and are spread by wind and rain, and if other animals feed on it, this parasite enters their muscles and becomes infected.
Keeping a Cat During Pregnancy
There is no need to abandon the cat during pregnancy, but it is better to have the cat checked by a veterinarian for toxoplasmosis. It is better not to clean the litter box during pregnancy because the litter can contain toxoplasmosis pathogens. Also, constant washing of hands after contact with cats during pregnancy prevents the spread of the disease. It is better to prevent the cat from entering the bed during the bed-drying period because the pathogenic agents that it transfers to the pillow or blanket increase the risk of infection.
Make sure to use cat food during pregnancy, not raw meat. During pregnancy, shoes should be removed outside the house because the shoes may be infected with toxoplasmosis and this will cause the cat to get infected in this way, and try to keep the floor very clean or clean the floor regularly with a steam jet.
What are the Symptoms of Toxoplasmosis Infection?
Rarely, one to three weeks later, the infected person will experience fever, headache, body aches, diarrhea, swollen lymph nodes, and fatigue. In general, most patients are unaware of their infection, but if a person is immunocompromised, infection with toxoplasmosis can be dangerous.
Risk of Toxoplasmosis During Pregnancy
If a woman is infected with toxoplasmosis before pregnancy, she has the necessary antibodies against toxoplasmosis in her body for the rest of her life, and she can transfer these antibodies to her child during pregnancy, and the child is protected against this infection. If the mother is infected with toxoplasmosis a few weeks before or during pregnancy, it can be dangerous for the child because the parasite can enter the bloodstream of the child through the placenta and cause injuries such as physical and mental disabilities, severe developmental disorders, abnormalities, and Even premature birth or abortion.
Effects of Toxoplasmosis on Children During Pregnancy
- 15% risk of contamination
- Harder penetration of the pathogen into the placental membrane
- Risk of miscarriage
- 45% risk of contamination
- Physical and mental disability
- Damage to meninges, eyes and organs, liver, kidney, and heart
- Premature delivery or stillbirth
- 70% risk of contamination
- Birth of an asymptomatic baby
- Observation of infection damage after several months or years after birth
How to Diagnose Toxoplasmosis Infection
Identification is through a blood test. Infected blood contains antibodies against the pathogen. But if a person has a defect in the immune system, the blood test may not help to definitively diagnose the infection, in which case a sample should be taken from the person’s tissue, such as the tissue of the swollen lymph node.
There are also tests that veterinarians can use to diagnose this infection in cats.
Treatment of Toxoplasmosis in Pregnancy
Treatment of toxoplasmosis infection is very important even if it is asymptomatic because it can cause serious risks to the fetus.
Different antibiotics are used according to the week of pregnancy, for example, Spiramycin is used in the first trimester, and sulfadiazine and pyrimethamine are used in the second and third trimesters. Folic acid must be prescribed along with sulfadiazine and pyrimethamine
From the 16th week, the doctor can diagnose whether the fetus is infected or not by ultrasound or by sampling the amniotic fluid.
After the birth of the child, the medicines received are the same medicines that were used during pregnancy, and the child must also be tested and treated in case of infection.
Prevention of Toxoplasmosis During Pregnancy
If a person has never been infected with toxoplasmosis and does not have antibodies in his blood, it is better to observe the following:
- Not eating raw meat
- Thoroughly wash the vegetables
- Clean kitchen utensils
- Use of disposable gloves
- Washing hands regularly
- Care during gardening
Currently, there is no vaccine for this infection for humans and cats.
Toxoplasmosis is an infection that can be transmitted to humans through raw meat, animals such as cats, and some foods, and sometimes the affected person will develop symptoms. Pregnant mothers can transfer this infection to their fetus and cause serious harm to the child. Mothers who have not been infected with this infection do not have antibodies against the pathogen, so it is necessary for these mothers to follow the health tips.