WHAT IS TOXOPLASMOSIS, AND DO YOU KNOW HOW TO STAY SAFE?
Toxoplasmosis is a prevalent infection caused by the parasite Toxoplasma gondii. This parasite is developed inside cats, and from there, it can reach other animals and subsequently human beings. This infection is present in many adults, and most of them do not know. This condition is detectable by a toxoplasmosis test near me.
There are usually mild or no symptoms at all for those with a less susceptible immune system. Meanwhile, those with a weaker immune system have a higher risk of developing severe complications from it. Some of the difficulties include damage to any of the following organs:
What is the mode of transmission?
There are many ways through which humans can contract toxoplasma. They are:
Through contaminated foods
Toxoplasma cysts can sometimes be present in poorly cooked meat. They can also be present in fruits and vegetables that have come in contact with cat faeces or with the soil that contains it.
Inhaling contaminated dirt or cat litter which contains Oocysts (sporulated cysts)
The first stage to the development of toxoplasma occurs when the cat eats a rodent or meat that contains the Toxoplasma cysts. This parasite then multiplies itself in the intestine of the cat. Within some weeks, the cat sheds many of these infectious cysts from its faeces through a process called sporulation.
During this process, the walls of the cysts become hardened and allow the cyst to enter a dormant but transmittable stage. It can stay that way for up to one year.
Contraction from an infected person
When the infection is present in pregnant women, they will transfer it to their unborn children through the placenta. Aside from this means, it is relatively difficult to transmit it from one person to another since infected people are not contagious.
On a few occasions, this infection can be transferred through blood transfusion and organ transplant from an infected person.
Is toxoplasmosis very common?
The prevalence of toxoplasmosis differs significantly from region to region. Central Africa snd Central America has the highest number of infections. This is because of the climate of those areas. The duration at which the cysts remains infectious is dependent on the humidity of the city.
The local culinary factor also has a part to play in the transmission of the infection. Regions that eat more undercooked or raw food have a higher chance of transmission. Also, using fresh meat that was not frozen before influences the number of infection.
Symptoms of toxoplasmosis
There are only a few symptoms experienced by infected people. However, some infected people may not experience any sign at all. Among those that develop symptoms, the following are usually part of them:
- Muscle ache
- Low-grade fever
- Swelling of the lymph node around the neck
Conditions, not necessarily toxoplasmosis, can also cause these symptoms. So, talk to your doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment if you develop any of these symptoms.
What are the risks of toxoplasmosis in pregnancy?
This condition is usually handled severely since it can be transferred to the unborn child through the placenta. When this happens, the eye, brain, heart and lungs of the infected baby may suffer damage.
If the infection is a recent one in the mother, she has a risk of losing her baby through miscarriage.
What are the effects of toxoplasmosis in pregnancy?
The signs of some infected babies can be detected through an ultrasound. They are usually noticed as abnormalities with the brain and in a few cases, the liver. The toxoplasmosis cyst can be identified from the organ of the baby after the infection develops. However, the most severe damage occurs when the disease gets to the nervous system. This can cause the child to suffer from blindness or a visual impairment, intellectual disability, or delays in development. This damages may occur before or after birth.
Toxoplasmosis and HIV
People with HIV have a higher chance of contracting the infection because HIV causes the immune system to be weak. However, the risk is higher in pregnant women that are HIV positive. and also have a higher risk of severe complications from the infection.
Treating toxoplasmosis and HIV
There are many options for treating toxoplasmosis in pregnancy. If the clinic detects a new or first infection in a pregnant woman, the amniotic fluid must be tested to see if the disease has gotten to the child. If the condition is treated immediately, it can prevent the development of neurological problems or death of the fetus. Also, spiramycin (an antibiotic) may be prescribed by your doctor to prevent the child from being infected for the rest of the pregnancy. However, your baby will still have to take this antibiotic until one-year post-delivery. Infected babies will receive pyrimethamine and sulfadiazine as a combination. This medication will be offered until one year post-delivery.
If the infection occurs within the 24th week of pregnancy, the mother may be advised to terminate it. This, however, is the most extreme option. It is not usually recommended for most cases since some babies respond well to treatment.
Prevention of toxoplasmosis
The risk of contracting the infection can be reduced by adhering to the following guidelines:
- Only eat properly cooked meat
- Wash your hands properly after touching raw meat.
- Wash your raw vegetables very well before eating
- Do not travel to countries with prevailing cases like south America
- Avoid getting in contact with cat faeces
- Change your cat litter box (with gloves) once in two days and wash the litter tray with boiling water
There is no vaccine for toxoplasmosis. So, if you want to try pregnancy, you may wish to carry out a private toxoplasmosis test at Blood London after you have considered the above-listed guidelines. Do call us today on 020 71830244 to book an appointment with our doctor for professional advice.