I have tested positive for toxoplasmosis and am pregnant? What happens next?
Toxoplasmosis is an infection caused by a microscopic parasite. You can get Toxoplasmosis by eating undercooked infected meat or by handling soil or cat litter that contain the parasite. Most adults have no symptoms, but the infection can cross the placenta to the unborn child.
Unborn children infected in early pregnancy may suffer from any of the following conditions:
– mental retardation
– cerebral palsy
Toxoplasmosis may also result in miscarriage or stillbirth.
Cats often become infected with Toxoplasmosis when they eat an infected rodent or bird. Infected cats typically appear healthy. The parasite is resistant to most household disinfectants, and may live for more than a year in soil. It is imperative that a pregnant woman not handle kitty litter, as well as taking the following precautions:
– Don’t feed the cat raw or undercooked meats.
– Keep the cat indoors to prevent it from hunting birds or rodents.
– Don’t eat raw or undercooked meat, especially lamb or pork. Meat should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160º F throughout.
– If you handle raw meat, wash your hands immediately with soap. Never touch your eyes, nose or mouth with potentially contaminated hands.
– Wash all raw fruits and vegetables before you eat them.
– Wear gloves when gardening, since outdoor soil may contain the parasite from cats.
– Avoid children’s sandboxes. Cats may use them as a litter box.
Healthy adults typically suffer no ill effects from toxoplasmosis, and do not have symptoms to suggest infection. If tests show that the fetus is not yet infected, the mother may be given an antibiotic called spiramycin. Some studies suggest that spiramycin can reduce by about 50 percent the likelihood of the fetus becoming infected. If your baby should become infected, your physician will typically attempt to treat the infection aggressively, and will likely begin treating immune system issues immediately after birth.