Toxoplasmosis is an infection transmitted by a parasite, known as Toxoplasma gondii, usually found in the digestive system of cats. However, toxoplasmosis is not a cause for concern if the affected individual is otherwise healthy. This is because treatment is not required as the person does not fall sick. A pregnant woman infected with this parasite, for the first time, has a high probability of passing the infection to her baby. Serious health complications may later develop in babies, such as brain damage or learning problems (retardation). In rare cases, the infection may even cause a miscarriage.
The parasitic infection, is usually transmitted through contact with cat feces. People who keep household pets often ignore wearing rubber gloves and use bare hands to clean the litter tray. This habit of neglecting basic sanitary practices can also make one vulnerable to this parasitic infection. This microscopic organism (toxoplasma gondii) is also found in fresh vegetables and fruits. So, avoiding to wash vegetables before eating can increase the risk of toxoplasmosis transmission. Contaminated soil that is used in gardening is also a source of toxoplasmosis. Drinking unpasteurized milk, especially the unpasteurized goat milk, can also cause this infection as it contains this parasite.
In most cases, people who are affected are unaware that they have this disease. However, flu-like symptoms appear in individuals with weakened immune systems. People with HIV/AIDS also have compromised immune systems and can contract this infection anytime in their lifetime. In general, infected individuals may show the following symptoms:
- Muscle aches that can last for several weeks
- Swollen lymph nodes
- A sore throat
- Poor coordination, blurred vision and seizures particularly observed in HIV infected patients
- Severe eye infections and an enlarged liver spleen are noticed in babies
Pyrimethamine is a commonly prescribed drug to treat this condition. A mixture of pyrimethamine and clindamycin (antibiotic), is also effective. Other antibiotics often used in combination with this medication are spiramycin and sulfadiazine. Some patients are also given folinic acid supplementation, along with pyrimethamine.
Thoroughly wash vegetables before preparing meals. One must also wash hands properly with soap and water, after handling undercooked or raw meat. Always use rubber gloves in order to change the pet's litter box. Eating unpasteurized products or drinking unpasteurized milk must be strictly avoided. Ensure that the meat you eat is cooked properly. Cured meats, like Parma ham, should not be consumed, as it can also cause parasitic infections. Any kind of gardening activity must be followed by cleaning hands with an antiseptic soap.
This parasitic infection commonly affects the sheep. Individuals living near a farm should never handle lambing ewes (female sheep) or newborn lambs. One should also not wear clothes of people involved in lambing. Stray cats and dogs are also vulnerable to this infection. Hence, one must avoid contact with these animals to keep this parasitic infection at bay.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.