We could consider the toxoplasmosis as one of the infectious diseases that causes most concern to many pregnant women, especially if they are new (where doubts abound everywhere), and also have cats at home. The main reason is found in the lack of existing information about it; or, almost better said, in the excess of bad information, myths and erroneous beliefs that have been popularly spread for years regarding this infection, the pussycat and the gestation.
While it is true, as we will see, that it is a serious illness when the infection occurs during pregnancy, in most cases it is quite likely that either the pregnant woman is immunized and has passed the illness without realizing it, or that the infection never occurs, especially if adequate hygiene measures are maintained which in fact are not only useful against toxoplasmosis, but ultimately against any type of infection (especially food).
In fact, when the infection occurs, it is common that symptoms do not begin to appear until after 1 to 2 weeks. And if the person has a healthy immune system, the symptoms They are usually similar to those that arise with mononucleosis: inflammation of the lymph nodes (neck and head), malaise, muscle pain, sore throat and fever.
What are the consequences for the baby if the spread of toxoplasmosis occurs during pregnancy?
Although the infection to the baby is a very special risk during the third trimester of pregnancy, the earlier the infection occurs, the more serious the damage that the fetus could suffer, especially when it is still in development.
Unfortunately, when contagion occurs, most babies who have had congenital toxoplasmosis have no symptoms until several months or years later. This is because, as we will see below, the signs become evident as it develops and grows (and not from the moment of birth). Among the damages that can occur, we must highlight the following:
- Low birth weight, due to intrauterine growth retardation.
- Blindness or severe visual impairment.
- Severe hearing impairment
- Affectation of the central nervous system.
- Affectation at the cerebral level.
- Affectation of the lymphatic system, lungs, spleen or liver.
In addition, if the infection occurs during the first trimester of pregnancy, there may be a spontaneous abortion .
However, if the infection occurs after the 32nd week of pregnancy, it does not usually cause harm to the baby, especially those who can not be medically treated successfully. Therefore, the risk affects especially if the infection occurs in the middle of pregnancy and the future mother does not receive treatment.
Is it possible to prevent toxoplasmosis during pregnancy?
If you have cats at home and you have become pregnant, it is quite likely that you have already heard some expression -unly useful and also probably out of place-, from someone close by warning you of the risks of getting infected. toxoplasmosis . Moreover, it is possible that the recommendation goes a little further, and the advice is to get rid of your poor pussy quickly.
It is an infection caused by the Toxoplasma gondii , a species of protozoan parasite , whose infection can actually occur in very different ways, and not only through the cat's feces (as popularly and wrongly tend to think).
In fact, not only can we find these organisms in the feces of animals (especially street cats), but it is also present in the soil - for example, in vegetables - as well as in the flesh of animals and birds little cooked. Moreover, as many experts say, the danger of getting toxoplasmosis through a domestic cat is much less than through certain foods .
Among the meats that usually tend to be contaminated, we can mention especially the goat and sheep meat (lamb). In turn, different elaborations can be considered a risk, as could be the case of raw minced meat and the popular carpaccio . A) Yes the best way to avoid contagion through food is by cooking the food very well, frying it sufficiently, or freezing it .
Therefore, below we briefly highlight what are the main tips and recommendations that you should take into account to avoid the spread of toxoplasmosis during pregnancy:
- Make sure all the meat or poultry you eat is well cooked.
- Wash thoroughly and thoroughly all vegetables, fruits and vegetables before consuming them.
- Before preparing food, and eating, wash your hands thoroughly.
- Avoid eating raw meat, or any preparation that contains it (for example, the carpaccio ).
- If you have pets at home always wash your hands after you have caressed them.
- Avoid touching the drawer where the animals do their needs.
- If you have a garden and you take care of it or the garden, always do it wearing gloves.
As we can see, actually preventing the spread of toxoplasmosis not only during pregnancy, but at any time of life, is very easy and simple, especially if we follow adequate hygienic measures.
- HOLZGREVE, BRIGITTE. 300 questions and answers about pregnancy . Madrid: Tikal Editions. 2013. pp 50-51.
- DEANS, ANNE. The bible of pregnancy . Barcelona: Random House Mondadori. 2011. pp 111.