How do you get toxoplasmosis during pregnancy?

Welcome, dear reader! Today, we’ll be talking about something extra gross and unpleasant – toxoplasmosis during pregnancy. Just hearing the word “toxo” makes you feel like scratching your skin off, doesn’t it? Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered in this guide with information on how to avoid getting infected. So grab some snacks (no raw meat or unpasteurized milk please), sit back, relax and let’s dive into it.

What is Toxoplasmosis Anyway?

Toxoplasmosis is a parasitic infection caused by Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii). This sneaky little parasite can infect a range of warm-blooded animals such as cats, rodents, birds, etc., even humans if they come in contact with contaminated food or water. It has three different stages of development: tachyzoites (fast-growing parasites that cause acute infections); bradyzoites (slow-growing parasites that form cysts) and oocysts (unsporulated eggs shed from infected feces).

It sounds real terrible already huh? Especially for expecting mothers because of the risks associated with congenital toxoplasmic infection in their unborn child when they get infected during pregnancy. That brings us to our next point…

Congenital Toxoplasmosis

When an expectant mother gets infected with T.gondii,the parasite may cross the placental barrier and infect her unborn baby, causing congenital toxoplasmosis. The severity of the impact depends on which stage gestation period did the mother acquire it; If Infection occurs early in gestation then severe fetal consequences occur mostly due to tachyzoite invasion . Symptoms here could include microcephaly, hydrocephalus, ventriculomegaly, and even retinochoroiditis.

Overall, congenital toxoplasmosis is not a fun experience for either the baby or expecting mother. That’s why you need to take all necessary precautions to protect yourself from getting infected.

How Do You Get Infected with Toxoplasma gondii

As previously mentioned, Toxoplasma gondii can infect humans when they ingest contaminated water or food products such as raw meat, unwashed fruits/vegetables and unpasteurized milk. Also close contact with cat feces is another avenue of infection spread .Yum!! The following are some really disgusting ways that T.gondii gets transmitted:

Through Food

  • Undercooked meat,especially lamb,mutton and venison: If you’re a fan of rare steak like myself, hold up! Eating undercooked meats increases your risk of contracting T.gondii.
  • Unwashed Fruits/Vegetables: There could be eggs in the soil used in planting vegetables ,so wash properly!

Contact With Cat Feces

Remember earlier how we said cats can harbor these parasites? Well,welcome to Part two where an article about toxoplasmosis won’t be complete without mentioning ‘CATS’!

You can acquire Toxoplasmosis through:
– Cleaning litter boxes filled with infected cat feces
– Eating off utensils/cutting boards that were not properly disinfected after being in contact with uncooked/blended raw meat (a delicacy,Tartar maybe?). The thing is if your fluffy friend eats the T.godnii contaminated animal; it remains active in their poop for a significant amount of time.
– Handling them lovely felines themselves :yeah I know they’re real cute but just avoid direct human/cat/mouth contact during prenatal journey.

It might seem impossible to avoid all of these sources (I mean, who doesn’t love having a cheeky rare steak every now and then), but there’s good news – the risk of getting infected can be minimized using some specific precautions we will delve into……..right about NOW!

How To Minimize Your Risk Of Getting Infected

Cook It Good

As simple as it sounds. Cook your meat to an internal temp of 160°F (70°C) for at least 30 minutes if possible, because heat kills T.gondii! And remember that even commercially frozen meats should still be cooked thoroughly before consumption.

It is really crucial to note at this point that microwaves may not evenly cook raw meat ,so keep clear from attempts with them.

Wash Those Fruits/Veggies

Another obvious one: wash everything clean very properly . Definitely when you’re pregnant , your immune system is weaker than normal so you’re more prone to infections …leave no room for chance cause ‘90% less likely’ means protection over nothing right?

Avoid Raw Meat/Blended Meat Cake Thingies

We’ve discussed how undercooked/raw meats are breeding grounds for toxoplasma gondii. So in summary :
– No To Sushi and sashimi either
– That perfectly blended hamburger cake might as well have read ‘TOXOCAKE’

You must also watch out for those salads with uncooked fermented fish.

Taking those little extra steps could go a long way considering the impact on pregnancy journey .

Remember when I said we’d got ya covered? Here are some other measures to take:

Hygiene Matters A Lot !

  1. Proper hand hygiene :wash frequently…especially after direct or second-hand contact with cat litter, feces, soil or sandboxes or engaging in outdoor activities like gardening.
  2. Avoid putting your hands in your mouth, eyes and nose , or sharing kitchenware with others especially after petting /feeding a cat
  3. Close any outdoor spaces where cats might have access to like child play areas ,sandboxes…sounds gross.Learnable lesson here?

Science Related Precautions

If you’re high risk (e.g., veterinary students), then there are medications that can be prescribed post-exposure for 3 weeks .

A blood test can confirm whether you’ve had toxoplasmosis before as it will show the presence of antibodies to T.gondii.But not too late tho’, Early identifications gives you more options.


No New Cats; Just Yet .

We all know how kittens make living worthwhile …but during this period refrain from owning new furry pets which could greatly increase exposure risk . And never adopt from a stranger without knowing their previous living conditions yeah?


In summary: Toxoplasmosis is no joke! Protect yourself by cooking meat well, washing fruits/vegetables properly,cleaning any litter boxes frequently and seeking medication if necessary. Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure – especially when it comes to keeping your unborn child safe!

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