(Jump) Herbal treatment for Toxoplasmosis infection ?At birth, most babies affected by toxoplasmosis have no obvious problems. But these babies then develop symptoms during the next few months or years, such as:
- eye infections
- hearing problems
- learning difficulties
Occasionally, babies born with toxoplasmosis have problems that are obvious at birth. These babies are most likely to have serious problems such as blindness, deafness and brain damage. Sadly, some babies are stillborn or survive only a few days after birth.
How will I know if I have toxoplasmosis?
You won’t be routinely screened for toxoplasmosis during your pregnancy. However, if you’re concerned that you may have been exposed to the infection, ask your GP to arrange for you to have a blood test. This will tell you whether or not you’re immune by looking for antibodies. You will need to have the blood test at least three weeks after you may have been infected, as it can take this long for antibodies to appear. If the blood test is negative this means you have no antibodies to toxoplasmosis, and you’re not immune. You may need to have a blood test every month or six weeks until you have your baby. If the blood test is positive, then there are antibodies in your blood. This could be because of:
- a previous infection, which would mean you are immune
- a recent infection for which you will need treatment
To find out if you have a new toxoplasmosis infection, you’ll need another blood test. If this comes back positive, you have the infection and will need treatment. You’ll need to take an antibiotic called spiramycin over a period of several months. This greatly reduces the risk that your baby will be infected. It’s also possible to find out if your unborn baby is infected using a test called amniocentesis. To carry out this test, your doctor will extract a sample of your baby’s blood from the umbilical cord or a sample of amniotic fluid. Amniocentesis isn’t always completely accurate, and can’t show how severely your baby has been affected by toxoplasmosis. Amniocentesis also carries a risk of miscarriage. Your doctor should help you decide whether or not to opt for amniocentesis. You’ll need to weigh up the risks of passing toxoplasmosis to your baby, against the odds that your baby will be affected by it. This will vary according to the stage of pregnancy at which you were infected. Your baby can also have a blood test after birth to see if he has toxoplasmosis. If your baby shows signs of the infection, he will be treated with antibiotics.
How can I prevent toxoplasmosis?
There are simple steps you can take to prevent yourself picking up toxoplasmosis:
- Always wash your hands before preparing or handling food. After you’ve finished cooking, wash your hands and all cooking utensils and surfaces.
- Make sure that all meat and chilled or frozen ready meals are thoroughly cooked before you eat them.
- Don’t eat cured meats during pregnancy, such as parma ham and salami.
- Steer clear of unpasteurised milk, and cheese and cream made from unpasteurised milk.
- Always wash fruit and vegetables, particularly if you are eating them raw, including pre-washed salads.
- If you’re gardening or handling soil or sand, wear gloves. Then wash your hands afterwards in case you have come into contact with cat poo in the soil.
- If your child has an outdoor sand box, cover it up to prevent cats using it as a litter tray.
- If you’ve been in contact with sheep at farms, or been visiting outdoor play centres where there are animals, wash your hands thoroughly afterwards. Also don’t handle newborn lambs while you’re pregnant.
- If you have a cat, use gloves to empty the litter tray and wash your hands afterwards. Or, even better, ask someone else to deal with the litter tray while you’re pregnant. Also make sure the litter tray is emptied daily.
If you follow these precautions, this should be enough to prevent you catching toxoplasmosis, even if you have an infected cat. However, if you’re still worried, ask your vet to test your cat to see if he has been infected with toxoplasmosis. Just be aware you will have to pay for the test. If your cat proves positive, you might decide to put him into a cattery for six weeks until he is no longer infectious.
Who is at risk of toxoplasmosis?
Anyone who eats anything infected with the organism is at risk of catching the infection. Some women may be at increased risk due to the job they do, for instance catering, working on the land or farming. Lambing is a particular risk for pregnant women.
How to avoid toxoplasmosis during pregnancy
- Only eat meat that has been thoroughly cooked (ie, with no trace of blood or pinkness).
- Avoid raw cured meat, such as Parma ham.
- Wash hands, chopping boards and utensils thoroughly after preparing raw meat.
- Wash all fruit and vegetables thoroughly before cooking/eating to remove all traces of soil.
- Don’t drink unpasteurised goats’ milk or eat dairy products made from it.
- Wear gloves when gardening and wash hands and gloves afterwards – if you eat while gardening wash your hands first, and try to avoid gardening in areas that may have been soiled with cat faeces.
- Cover children’s sandpits to prevent cats using them as litter boxes.
- Remove faeces from cat litter tray every day wearing rubber gloves (or ask someone else do this), scald trays regularly with boiling water.