About the disease
Toxoplasmosis is an infection that develops when the parasite known as Toxoplasma gondii enters the body. According to Mayo Clinic, this condition rarely manifests itself in any symptoms and if it does, the symptoms are mostly flu-like. Toxoplasmosis can be contracted through contact with infected animals and by eating infected food or drinking polluted water.
People with a healthy immune system are often able to keep the disease at bay throughout their lives. Nonetheless, it is a serious condition and can be very dangerous, especially for pregnant women or people with a weakened immune system due to HIV/AIDS or chemotherapy, for example. Severe symptoms of toxoplasmosis can include blurred vision and seizures.
According to Mayo Clinic, a pregnant woman who is infected with toxoplasmosis is less likely to pass it on to her unborn child during the first trimester, but if she does, the consequences can be very serious. In severe cases, the pregnancy may end in miscarriage or stillbirth. Babies born with toxoplasmosis can experience seizures and eye infections. In some cases, however, people born with toxoplasmosis may not experience any symptoms until they are in their teens.
In most cases, toxoplasmosis does not have any symptoms. In severe cases, there can be such symptoms as:
- Muscle pain
- Swollen lymph nodes
- During a general examination, the doctor will ask the patient if they have experienced any of the symptoms listed above.
- Pregnant women are often advised to undergo a test for toxoplasmosis, just to be sure that they do not have this parasite in their body.
- A blood test can be performed to detect toxoplasmosis by measuring the levels of antibodies produced by the immune system. However, it is sometimes necessary to perform another blood test a few weeks later, since the immune system may takes a while to react to the infection and may not have started to produce antibodies at the time of the first test.
- Amniocentesis is a prenatal test that can be performed after 15 weeks of pregnancy. It is sometimes performed if there is reason to believe that the unborn child may be infected with toxoplasmosis, especially if the mother contracted toxoplasmosis during the pregnancy.
- An ultrasound can also be useful in monitoring the baby’s development.
- Conservative treatment is usually sufficient to alleviate the symptoms of infection.
- Medications such as pyrimethamine and antibiotics are often prescribed.
- Pregnant women are often prescribed with special antibiotics that stop them from passing toxoplasmosis to the fetus without causing complications. Such antibiotics reduce the risk of neurological problems in the child and are usually taken after the 16th week of pregnancy.