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AVOID TOXOPLASMOSIS DURING PREGNANCY

AVOID TOXOPLASMOSIS DURING PREGNANCY
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When we know about our pregnancy, it is a joy for our family, but other than the happiness, we also have to know about bad issue problem with it. This article will give information about toxoplasmosis as one of pregnancy problem.

The number of babies born in the United States with toxoplasmosis (known as "congenital toxoplasmosis") is relatively small, but the infection can be devastating, causing stillbirth or long-term damage. Fortunately, there's a lot you can do to avoid becoming infected in the first place.

What is toxoplasmosis?
Toxoplasmosis is an infection caused by a parasite called Toxoplasma Gondii, which is a microscopic organism. Toxoplasmosis can threaten the health of an unborn child. The Toxoplasma Gondii is the parasite multiplies in the intenstine of cats and is shed in cat feces, mainly into litter boxes and garden soil. You can get the parasite by handling cat litter or soil where there is cat feces. You can also get the parasite from eating undercooked meat (such as rare beef) from animals infected with the parasite.

In fact, more than 60 million Americans are currently infected with toxoplasmosis and experience no symptoms or health complications. However, toxoplasmosis can become very problematic for people who are suffering from a weakened immune system (including the chronically ill) and for pregnant women.

In fact, more than 60 million Americans are currently infected with toxoplasmosis and experience no symptoms or health complications. However, toxoplasmosis can become very problematic for people who are suffering from a weakened immune system (including the chronically ill) and for pregnant women.

Women who become infected during pregnancy can pass along the toxoplasmosis infection to their child, resulting in permanent disability. While the infection is fairly rare, affecting about two out of every 1000 pregnant women, it is still important for women to know to look for the signs and symptoms of toxoplasmosis.

How Do We Infected by Toxoplasmosis?
You can contract toxoplasmosis if you come into contact with an animal that has been infected by the toxoplasma gondii parasite. Because wild birds and rodents carry the parasite inside of their bodies, cats, sheep, and other wildlife often end up contracting the disease themselves. This parasite can then be passed on to you if you come into contact with an infected animal or infected animal products.

The main methods of contracting toxoplasmosis include:

  • Coming into contact with infected cat feces, either while gardening or while cleaning your cat’s litter box.
  • Eating infected meat, particularly pork, venison, or lamb, that is raw or undercooked.
  • Coming into contact with infected cooking or eating utensils.
  • Coming into direct contact with an infected sheep
  • Receiving a tainted blood transfusion or organ transplant

The organism may also enter the body through cuts or abrasions in the skin. This is a possible risk when handling newborn lambs or for farmers lambing.

For the baby, toxoplasmosis can be caught from its mother whilst still in the womb. This is referred to as transplacental transmission.

How long does it take to become infected?
In the case of transplacental transmission, it can take between 4 and 8 weeks after the mother's infection for the baby to become infected. The incubation period is 5-23 days after eating something infected with the parasite.

How do We know if We infected?
Blood testing for detecting past or recent exposure to this parasite is available, but is not routinely done. If you are not tested and you don't know if you're immune or not, or if testing does not show immunity from previous infection, you can still take steps to protect yourself and your unborn child.

We also could know if we infected are by the symptoms. Usually mild and may include: swollen glands, fever or chills and aching muscles.

How will the infection affect the baby?
If toxoplasmosis is caught in early pregnancy and is transmitted to the baby then there is a high risk of miscarriage. Babies infected during that first trimester or the second trimester may be born with severe abnormalities such as hydrocephalus (water on the brain), brain damage, or epilepsy. They may also suffer with deafness, blindness or growth problems. These may be so severe that the baby is stillborn.

If toxoplasmosis is caught in the third trimester of pregnancy and transmitted to the baby then babies may not suffer such severe and obvious problems. Although most of these babies may appear normal at birth, a large proportion will develop problems later in life. These are usually eye problems.

Once you are infected, there is a 40% chance that you will pass the toxoplasma gondii parasite on to your child. If this happens, your child could develop some very serious health issues. 10% of children infected with toxomplasmosis will show symptoms at birth, including:

  • Eye infections
  • Skin rash and jaundice
  • Pneumonia
  • Nervous system damage (including seizures and developmental delay)

What is the Treatment for Toxoplasmosis?
Most people who become infected with toxoplasmosis do not require treatment – the immune system will naturally fight the parasite. But if you are pregnant, it is essential that you receive medical treatment as soon as possible. Your health care provider can run a series of simple blood tests to determine if you are infected with the parasite. She will also perform ultrasound scans to find out if your baby has been infected.

If you and your baby are both infected with the parasite, your health care provider will likely prescribe the medications pyrimethamine and sulfadiazine. These medications will help to prevent your baby from suffering serious side effects. If your baby is not infected, you will likely be given the antibiotic spyramicin. This drug can help to decrease your baby’s chances of infection by up to 50%.

How to avoid Toxoplasma During Pregnancy?
Here are some tips to help you avoid exposure to toxoplasma during your pregnancy:

  • Do not allow your cat to go outside your home where it may come into contact with toxoplasma. If possible, have someone else take care of your cat while you are pregnant.
  • Have another family member change the cat litter box and then disinfect it with boiling water for 5 minutes.
  • If you must handle the chore of changing the litter box, wear rubber gloves to avoid contact with the litter and wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.
  • Use work gloves when gardening and wash your hands afterwards. Cover children's sandboxes when not in use (cats like to use them as litter boxes).
  • Control flies and cockroaches as much as possible. They can spread contaminated soil or cat feces onto food.
  • Avoid eating raw or undercooked meat (or poultry) and unwashed fruits and vegetables.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly before you eat and after handling raw meat, soil, sand or cats.
  • Avoid rubbing your eyes or face when preparing food, and wipe the counter clean afterwards.
  • Avoid eating raw eggs and drinking unpasteurized milk.

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