What is toxoplasmosis?
Toxoplasmosis is a type of infection that you may experience from a microscopic parasite known as Toxoplasma gondii. Although the infection is generally not serious in people with healthy resistance, it seems risky during pregnancy due to the attack of the parasite to the placenta and your unborn baby. This infection can be mild or severe and the consequence of this may vary from stillbirth and long-term structural and neurological damage to other devastating effects. Therefore, understanding how to prevent toxoplasmosis is vital to keep your unborn baby healthy.
Signs and symptoms of toxoplasmosis
The signs and symptoms of toxoplasmosis are generally not obvious. You possibly won’t know you are infected without testing. Most people with healthy immune systems don’t manifest any noticeable signs or symptoms at all. However, in case you get it, there are some common signs such as painless swollen lymph glands or other generally mild symptoms like muscle aches, fatigue, headache, fever, and possibly a sore throat or a rash.
Transmission and diagnosis of toxoplasmosis
It is believed that women infected with toxoplasmosis are able to transmit their infection across the placenta to their unborn babies. Additionally, the earlier you are infected, the less likely you can transmit toxoplasmosis to the baby in the pregnancy. However, an early infection results in more severe symptoms in the baby than a later one. It is noticeable that most infected babies during pregnancy have no sign or symptoms of toxoplasmosis when they are born, but they may then develop the disabilities in learning, visual, and hearing in life.
Sometimes toxoplasmosis is accidentally diagnosed through certain fetal abnormalities picked up during a prenatal ultrasound, though most infected babies appear normal.
If you experience toxoplasmosis infection during your pregnancy, there are several ways to check if your baby has been infected. First, your doctor will test the fluid around the fetus or the fetal blood for early infection. Second, your doctor may suggest an ultrasound to determine your baby’s health status. Moreover, the baby’s blood can be tested after birth.
Treatment options for toxoplasmosis
If you and your baby unfortunately get toxoplasmosis, your doctor may offer you antibiotics. It is important to keep in mind that the earlier the infection is identified and treated, the greater the chance of preventing infection of the unborn child is. If the child has already been infected, treatment can help prevent severe complications.
How to prevent toxoplasmosis
Once again, toxoplasmosis is not a serious condition to those who have healthy immune systems, but the consequence that it brings about can be dangerous for babies. Therefore, prevention is totally necessary for women who get pregnant. Some tips below can help you and your baby stay away from toxoplasmosis:
-Cook foods at safe temperatures and use a food thermometer to ensure that meat is cooked thoroughly. Moreover, the meat should not look pink and raw and the juices should be clear.
-Peel or thoroughly wash fruits and vegetables with clean water before eating to eliminate the parasites.
-Wash cutting boards, dishes, counters, utensils, and hands with hot, soapy water after they have come in contact with raw foods.
-Wear gloves when gardening and during any contact with soil or sand because it might contain cat feces.
Avoid changing cat litter if possible. If you must do it, wear gloves and wash your hands thoroughly afterward. You also should have someone change the litter box daily, keep your cat inside, and do not handle stray or adopted cats. Do not feed your cat raw or undercooked meats.
You might also want to read:
- Hand Sanitizers May Poison Your Kids
- Diphtheria in Children
- Successful Return to Work After Maternity Leave
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Review Date: March 23, 2017 | Last Modified: August 30, 2017
Pregnancy and Toxoplasmosis. http://www.webmd.com/baby/toxoplasmosis#2. Accessed March 21, 2017.
Parasites - Toxoplasmosis (Toxoplasma infection). https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/toxoplasmosis/gen_info/pregnant.html. Accessed March 21, 2017.