Toxoplasmosis - is a disease that causes the intracellular protozoa - Toxoplasma Gondii. We can say that toxoplasma is omnipresent; it exists in three forms: an egg, a proliferative form, and a cystic form.
The ultimate host of the simplest is the cat. The animal becomes infected by eating infected meat, or from its other infected relatives. Oocysts that are excreted in the feces are contagious and can be excreted from the soil, where sick animals are often «visited» Toxoplasma in nature is also found in other random hosts - carnivores, omnivores and herbivores (some mammals, birds and reptiles).
Routes of transmission of toxoplasmosis
Infection is transmitted through poorly prepared food or raw meat containing cysts. Freezing at - 20 C or cooking at + 66 C meat disinfects cysts.
According to statistics, 50-60% of women of childbearing age may be susceptible to primary Toxoplasma infection. The incidence of congenital toxoplasmosis is 3 to 6 cases per 1000 newborns.
The chance of a fetus contracting from the mother increases from 20% to 54% and up to 64% in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd trimester, respectively. This is due to the different thickness of the placenta at different stages of pregnancy. The severity of fetal damage is directly proportional to the gestational age at the time of infection.
Symptoms of Toxoplasmosis
Infection in a pregnant woman begins mostly asymptomatic. The most common manifestation of the disease is swollen lymph nodes without fever, which is accompanied by asthenia and headaches.
The consequences of intrauterine infection of the fetus can be disastrous. The classical triad consists of chorioretinitis, hydrocephalus and intracranial calcification, but these symptoms are present only in 10-30% of cases, while more than 75% of children do not have symptoms at birth and can show symptoms at a later age.
Other possible manifestations of fetal infection: : intrauterine growth retardation and prematurity. Neurological signs: convulsions, nystagmus, microcephaly.
Diagnosis and prevention of toxoplasmosis
The polymerase chain reaction is a method used to diagnose a genetic congenital toxoplasma infection in the amniotic fluid or blood of the fetus.
Prevention methods to reduce the incidence of toxoplasmosis are different. Therefore, it is very important:
- to prevent infection by oocysts secreted by cats (wash fruits and vegetables before eating, use gloves while working in the garden);
- prevent infection from meat, eggs and milk (do not try raw meat, do not drink unpasteurized milk, do not eat raw eggs);
- prevent fetal infection (treatment of infected women, determination of an infected fetus using ultrasound and amniocentesis).