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How to avoid getting sick with toxoplasmosis during pregnancy: it could cause blindness and mental deficiency in the baby | The State


Toxoplasmosis is not transmitted from person to person, except in cases of mother-to-child transmission (congenital).

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Kristina Paukshtite / Pexels

Eating food and drink contaminated with the parasite Toxoplasma gondii can make you sick of toxoplasmosis. Women are at higher risk of acquiring this disease which can be very harmful to baby. It could cause you blindness and intellectual disability, among other permanent problems.

How is this disease transmitted?

The toxoplasmosis is not spread from person to person, except in cases of transmission of mother to son (congenital). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explain that other main ways that people can get sick are through food, from animal to human and through blood transfusion or transplantation of infected organs.

About 50% of toxoplasmosis infections each year in the United States are contracted from food.

Where is the parasite?

Toxoplasma gondii is found in raw and undercooked beef, unwashed fruits and vegetables, contaminated water, dust, dirt, dirty cat litter boxes, and outdoor locations where animal feces can be found.

More at risk pregnant

The changes in the immune system of pregnant women put women and fetuses at higher risk for food poisoning. Newly acquired T. gondii infection in a pregnant woman can be transmitted to the fetus.

Toxoplasmosis can be difficult to detect. A pregnant woman may not have obvious symptoms and don’t even realize you are sick. Symptoms generally include swollen glands, fever, headache, muscle aches, or a stiff neck.

How does toxoplasmosis affect the baby?

The American Journal of Epidemiology notes that toxoplasmosis can cause in the baby intellectual disability, blindness, epilepsy and death.

The parasite can also cause hearing loss. Some children may develop brain or vision problems years after birth. Early identification and treatment of children infected with T. gondii is essential to minimize the effects of the parasite, notes the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

How to avoid getting sick from toxoplasmosis?

You can get sick by:

  • Eating raw or undercooked beef, especially pork, lamb or venison, or by putting your hands in your mouth after handling meat that is undercooked.
  • Using contaminated knives, utensils, and cutting boards, and others foods that have been in contact with raw beef.
  • Drinking contaminated water with T. gondii.
  • Accidentally ingesting contaminated cat feces. You should not give your cat away. The parasite does not become infectious until 1 to 5 days later from being deposited in the stool.

The FDA recommends:

  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water after touching dirt, sand, and raw meat.
  • Wash all cutting boards and knives thoroughly with soap and hot water after each use.
  • Wash or peel fruits and vegetables well before eating them.
  • Separate raw beef from other foods in the grocery cart, in the refrigerator, and when preparing food.
  • Cook the meat well and do not taste it until it is cooked. Beef should reach 160 ° F internal temperature.
  • Do not drink untreated water.
  • Change the litter box every day (before the parasite becomes infectious).

If possible, have someone else change the litter box. If a pregnant woman performs the work, she should wear disposable gloves and wash her hands thoroughly with soap and warm water after doing so.

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