Toxoplasmosis: Are you immune?

Toxoplasmosis: Are you immune?

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Toxoplasmosis is a mild infection ... unless you have a nice round belly. From the beginning of pregnancy, it is important to know if you are immune or not and, if you are not, take certain precautions on a daily basis.

What is toxoplasmosis?

  • Also known as "litter disease", toxoplasmosis is an infection caused by a parasite (Toxoplasma gondii) present in the soil and intestines of some animals, especially cats. The cat, like all cats, plays an important role because it is a so-called "definitive" host thanks to which the Toxoplasma gondii will be able to become adult, to reproduce and to contaminate again the external environment via the excrement.

There are 3 possible modes of contamination of toxoplasmosis:

  • By eating contaminated fruits, vegetables and herbs (hence the need to wash them well).
  • By eating meat (pork, mutton, beef ...) contaminated (hence the need to cook well).
  • By contact with the earth, plants (gardening for example), or objects soiled by excrement of infected cats.

What are the signs of this disease?

  • Most often, toxoplasmosis goes undetected. It can possibly be the source of a small fever, fatigue, headaches, muscle stiffness, swollen lymph nodes.
  • She only gets caught once. Anyone who has been exposed is immune for life.

What are the risks of toxoplasmosis?

Toxoplasmosis is a benign disease for you but not for your future baby if you are pregnant. In your home, it can cause a mild flu syndrome. For your baby, everything depends on the stage of pregnancy.

  • In the first trimester, the placenta is still not very vascularized, the risk of contamination is uncommon (it is about 5%), but can cause a miscarriage or, eventually, serious and definitive malformations (liver, brain, retina ).
  • Conversely, the risk of infection during the other two quarters is greater (about 40% in the second trimester of pregnancy and 70% in the third trimester) and less frequent and less serious complications (ocular disorders such as inflammation of the retina and of the choroid).
  • Fortunately, 80% of expectant mothers are immunized before pregnancy.

How do I know if I am immune to toxoplasmosis?

  • Toxoplasmosis is a common disease that is usually caught in childhood and goes unnoticed, as it is benign. This is why it is very rare to know before the first blood test of the pregnancy whether or not it has been contracted.
  • From the first visitprenatal at the beginning of your pregnancy, the doctor will ask you to practice a serology (blood test) to know if you have antibodies in your blood against this disease.
  • You are positive? This means that, like every other pregnant woman, you are immune to this parasite. Fifteen days later, he checks that your antibody level is stable to make sure the infection is old. You are quiet! This disease is only caught once and installs a definitive immunity to toxoplasma
  • Are you negative? This means that you are not immune. Every month, you will have to take another blood test to check that you have not been contaminated in the meantime.

What is treatment for toxoplasmosis?

  • If you are not immune to toxoplasmosis, you will take a monthly blood test for antibodies. This will help diagnose possible contamination. An amniocentesis can confirm the passage of the parasite.
  • In this case, an antibiotic treatment is set up throughout the pregnancy, with monthly ultrasounds of control.

    In the first trimester, toxoplasmosis is easier to treat than in the next two quarters. In the vast majority of cases, the treatment overcomes the parasite, without leaving any sequelae.

  • Good to know : there is no vaccine against toxoplasmosis.

What are the preventive measures if I am not immune?

  • If you are not immune, it will take some precautions to avoid being contaminated by this parasite. Prevention measures are simple and will also protect you against other diseases, such as listeriosis or tapeworm.

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