If you are healthy, you probably won’t know whether you have contracted Toxoplasmosis or not. This is an infection caused by something called as the parasite or otherwise called as Toxoplasma gondii. It can usually be found in cat feces as well as undercooked meat, specifically venison, pork, and lamb. In addition to that, it can also be transmitted via contaminated water. It can also cause serious birth defects in a fetus as well as it can be deadly if the mother becomes infected. This is one of the major reasons why doctors ask a pregnant woman not to do any scooping or cleaning cat litter boxes.
In most of the cases, toxoplasmosis will not cause any symptoms so that, the person won’t be aware that they are infected. According to the CDC – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention millions of people are infected with the parasite. The people who have the utmost risk for serious infections are the people with weakened immune systems and babies born to mothers with infection amid their pregnancy.
The above-mentioned symptoms are usually mild and they will normally pass within a few weeks.
When will one get toxoplasmosis?
A person can get toxoplasmosis when the T. gondii parasites get into his/her mouth. This can happen due to the occurrence of following scenarios:
- Consuming foods like unwashed fruit and vegetables or else drinking water that is contaminated with infected cat’s poo
- Eating raw, undercooked or cured infected meat, especially, lamb and pork
- Getting your hands contaminated by touching cat litter or soil, and then taking hand near your mouth
- This can also happen by accidentally getting the parasite in your mouth after dealing with contaminated meat, or knives, cutting boards as well as other utensils which are all in contact with the contaminated meat
- Finally, either eating or drinking infected unpasteurized goat’s milk or any products made from it, for example, cheese
- Blood transfusion or organ transplantation from an infected person is also a major reason.
Apart from all these there is also a small risk of the infection being passed from the sheep during the lambing season and the reason is the T. gondii parasite sometimes found on the newborn or the after birth lambs when an infected sheep gives birth.
Problems amid pregnancy:
Toxoplasmosis can be really serious if a mom-to-be becomes infected or even a few weeks before conceiving. Moreover, there is a chance that the infection could be passed to her infant. Not only that, the risk of getting toxoplasmosis amid pregnancy is very low. It is estimated 1 in 200 women are the victim of Toxoplasmosis. A woman will not usually have any symptoms if she is infected during pregnancy, but by any chance, if the infection spreads to her infant then it can cause:
- Congenital toxoplasmosis (this is where the baby develops toxoplasmosis while they are developing in mom’s womb)
Congenital toxoplasmosis can also cause serious issues that are either noticeable from the baby’s birth or develop few months or years later, like brain damage vision problems and hearing loss.
People who have weaker Immune System:
If a person has HIV or AIDS or if the person is receiving chemotherapy or else have recently had an organ transplant, there is a possibility that the person can be a victim of a previous toxoplasma infection. In that case, that particular person is more likely to develop and symptoms and signs of severe infection which includes:
- Poor coordination
- Ocular toxoplasmosis – Blurred vision that is caused by severe inflammation of your retina
- Lung problems that can resemble Pneumocystis pneumonia or tuberculosis, a common opportunistic infection which occurs in people with AIDS
Only a few babies who have toxoplasmosis had shown signs of the disease during birth. But, often, the infected children will not develop signs and symptoms until their teens or later. Some of the early infections on babies are
- An enlarged liver and spleen
- Severe eye infections
- Wash all fresh products before you eat it
- Wash all the utensils that are used to handle raw meat
- Make sure the meat is properly cooked
- Wash your hands right away after cleaning or scooping cat litter
Treatment for toxoplasmosis is unnecessary usually. Most of the times, the infection is diagnosed with just a blood test that checks for the presence of particular antibodies. Moreover, a healthy person who is not pregnant and if he/she becomes infected, they don’t require treatment. Symptoms will be usually mild and they disappear after a few weeks.
For people who are with weakened immune systems or those who have HIV/AIDS should consult their doctor and get the medications that include prescribed antibiotics.