A protozoan infection that can be acquired from dog and cat faeces, and from eating uncooked meat and fish. A blood test can tell you if you have already been exposed to Toxoplasmosis (many women have and do not realise they have been exposed). If not special precaution around domestic animals is advisable. Uncooked meat and fish (including smoked meats and fish) should also be avoided.
Here are some tips to help you avoid exposure to toxoplasma during your pregnancy:
- Do not allow your cat to go outside your home where it may come into contact with toxoplasma. If possible, have someone else take care of your cat while you are pregnant. Have another family member change the cat litter box and then disinfect it with boiling water for 5 minutes. Use work gloves when gardening or changing litter and wash your hands afterwards.
- Avoid eating raw or undercooked meat (or poultry) and unwashed fruits and vegetables.
- Wash your hands thoroughly before you eat and after handling raw meat, soil, sand or cats.
- Avoid rubbing your eyes or face when preparing food, and wipe the counter clean afterwards.
- Because the immune system of a fetus is not mature enough to fight off a toxoplasmosis infection, antibiotics are needed to kill the parasite. Infants who are treated before birth are more likely to be healthy after birth. If you are diagnosed with a new toxoplasmosis infection during pregnancy, you will be treated with an antibiotic that targets infection in the placenta. If further testing shows that your fetus is infected, you will be given two antibiotics that are known to reduce the impact of toxoplasmosis on the fetus. For more information, see the Medications section of this topic.
- When fetal infection occurs during pregnancy, combination antibiotic therapy is most likely to be effective. Sulfadiazine plus pyrimethamine (an antibiotic commonly used for malaria) is sometimes used with the antibiotic spiramycin.