Thursday, November 12, 2009

Toxoplasmosis

All pregnant moms are concerned with this infection. What is it exactly. Well it mostly comes from animals/ pets and eating raw meat. Since I have 2 felines at home, I got myself tested. Believe it or not, the blood test says that I have immunity towards it, which means, I have been infected before and my body has built up an immune system for it. Which also means, one of my cats has it. Although I am safe, the baby might not be when he or she is born. So we have to get the kitties tested soon!
Here is what Baby Centre has to say about Toxoplasmosis
Cat faeces can carry a parasite that causes toxoplasmosis, an infection that isn't serious for you, but might be dangerous for your developing baby. Eating raw, cured or undercooked meat is the most common source of this infection, but cat faeces can also pose a possible risk.

If you have a pet cat, or you've had them in the past, it's possible that you've already been exposed to the infection (although you may not have realised it at the time) and are therefore immune to it.

Fortunately, it's possible to prevent infection by following some simple steps (see below).


What are the symptoms of toxoplasmosis?
In adults, the symptoms are usually fairly mild and may include swollen lymph nodes in the neck, headaches, muscular aches, fatigue and general flu-like symptoms. They usually appear about two to three weeks after you've been exposed to the infection. However, some infected adults have no symptoms at all.

The chance of toxoplasmosis being passed on to a baby varies according to the stage of pregnancy when the infection is caught. The severity of its effects also varies according to the stage of pregnancy.

If you catch toxoplasmosis late in pregnancy your baby is more likely to be infected, but less likely to suffer damage.

If you are infected early in pregnancy, your baby is less likely to be infected, but is more likely to be damaged by the infection.

An infection can lead to the following:

• miscarriage or stillbirth

• hydrocephalus (water on the brain) or brain damage

• damage to the eyes or other organs.

Most babies born with toxoplasmosis have no obvious damage at birth, but eight out of 10 develop symptoms. These are usually eye infections, hearing problems or learning difficulties, during the next few months or years.

One in 10 babies born with toxoplasmosis has problems that are evident at birth. These babies are most likely to have serious problems such as blindness, deafness and brain damage. Sadly, some babies are stillborn or survive only a few days after birth.


I'm still worried. What can I do to make sure I don't have it?
Pregnant women in Malaysia aren't routinely screened for toxoplasmosis. However, if you're concerned that you may have been exposed to the infection, you could ask your doctor to do a blood test that will tell you whether or not you're immune.

If you have no antibodies to toxoplasmosis, you're not immune. If antibodies are present in your blood, this could either be because of a previous infection, which would mean you are immune, or because of a recent infection for which you will need further treatment.

If the blood test is negative, showing no antibodies, it may need to be repeated every month or six weeks until you have your baby. Should a test prove positive during the course of your pregnancy, it means you've been exposed to the infection. You'll need to take an antibiotic called spiramycin over a period of several months. This greatly reduces the risk that your baby will be infected.

It's also possible to test whether your unborn baby is infected, although the tests cannot show how severe any damage is. The test is done by taking a sample of your baby's blood from the umbilical cord or a sample of amniotic fluid. However, the results of these tests are not completely accurate and the procedure carries a risk of miscarriage.

Babies can also be tested after birth. If your baby does show any signs of the infection, he will be treated with antibiotics. Your doctor should help you decide whether to test your baby during pregnancy or not, by weighing up the risks of transmission against the odds that your baby will be affected by the disease. This will vary according to the stage of pregnancy at which you were infected.

How can I avoid getting toxoplasmosis in the first place?
There are several steps you can take to avoid infection:

• Always wash your hands before preparing or handling food.

• Make sure that all meat and chilled ready-meals are thoroughly cooked before you eat them. If you can see any pinkness or blood on the meat, don't eat it.

• When you've handled raw meat, remember to wash your hands, cooking utensils and surfaces thoroughly afterwards.

• Don't eat cured meats, such as Parma ham and salami.

• Avoid unpasteurised milk and products made from it.

• Always wash fruit and vegetables, particularly if you are eating them raw, including ready-prepared salads.

• If you're gardening or handling soil or sand, wear gloves and wash your hands afterwards in case you have come into contact with cat faeces in the soil. Cover children's outdoor sand boxes to prevent cats using them as litter boxes.

• Wash your hands thoroughly after contact with animals at farms and outdoor play centres with animals.

• If you have a cat, use gloves when emptying the litter tray and wash your hands afterwards, or, if you can, get someone else to deal with the litter tray while you're pregnant. Empty the litter tray daily.

Following the precautions above should be enough to prevent you catching toxoplasmosis, even if you have an infected cat. However, if you're still worried, you could ask your vet to test your cat to see if he has been infected with toxoplasmosis. If it proves positive, you might decide to put him into a cattery for six weeks until he is no longer infectious.

3 comments:

flowerella said...

Hi Lin,

I adopted 3 furbabes when I was few months pregnant with my 2nd dotter. I took some precautionary steps- basuh tangan always (especially lepas pegang derang) and let the hub dealed with the litter..

Alhamdulillah, baby arrived safe n healthy. But then, for peace of mind, just go ahead with whatever test required.. we dont want to take any chane here, do we?

Anonymous said...

hi Lin,

Can I know where you tested toxoplasmosis? I'm concern too. Thanks to advice.

Regards,
Chrissy

Lin said...

Hi Chrissy, I had my toxoplasmosis blood test at the hospital where I do my prenatal checks. Just tell your dr u want this test done