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12. TOXOPLASMOSIS

The main source for toxoplasmosis infecting humans is undercooked & raw meat. Across the globe the infection is extremely common in the human population, the average immune system is more than capable of dealing with it.

France for example has a particularly high percentage of toxoplasmosis endemic (& harmless) in the human population, due to their tendancy to consume raw & undercooked meats. Pregnant women are advised not to handle raw meat as a precaution.

Felids (cats) are also carriers of toxoplasmosis, this is due to the prevalence of the disease in mammals & the tendancy of cats to catch & consume rodents etc. Because of this there is a great paranoia surrounding pregnant women having pet cats. Not all cats carry it & the only way for humans to catch Toxoplasmosis from them is by injesting contaminated feaces. Feaces from a specific infected animal can only become contagious, more than a day after it has been deposited. Litter trays should not be left uncleaned for this length of time anyway. Pregnant women are advised to avoid gardening or handling/consuming raw meat & to avoid cleaning litter trays themselves, or to wear rubber gloves when doing so. 

Women in the U.K. are not screened for toxoplasmosis as incidents of women coming into contact with it for the first time at the relevant stage of their pregnancy, are very rare. The infection has a potential to be harmful should a previously un-exposed immune system (which is rare in itself) of a pregnant woman, come directly into contact with the virus. This is unlikely & is very simple to avoid with basic hygiene. 

Added to this, a cat can only be contagious for a short time when they themselves come into first contact with the virus. 

The average feline & human immune systems, are more than capable of dealing with the virus found in undercooked meat.

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"Women with cats do not need to get rid of them when they become pregnant; it is just necessary to take a few precautions.

Be sure to only eat meat which has been cooked right through. Wash your hands, cooking utensils and food surfaces after preparing raw meat and wash all the soil from fruit and vegetables before eating. Keep raw meat and cooked foods on separate plates. If possible get someone else to clean out the dirty cat litter or use gloves and wash your hands afterwards. Always use gloves when gardening and wash your hands afterwards."

Womenshealth.co.uk

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Cat faeces can carry a parasite that causes toxoplasmosis, an infection that isn't serious for you, but might be dangerous for your developing baby. Eating raw, cured or undercooked meat is the most common source of this infection, but cat faeces can also pose a possible risk.

If you have a pet cat, or you've had them in the past, it's possible that you've already been exposed to the infection (although you may not have realised it at the time) and are therefore immune to it.

Although only about 10 to 25 per cent of women in the UK are immune to toxoplasmosis before getting pregnant, your odds of contracting toxoplasmosis during pregnancy are low. It's estimated that only about 1 in 500 pregnant women in the UK - about 2,000 women a year - are infected during their pregnancy.There are several steps you can take to avoid infection:

• Always wash your hands before preparing or handling food.
• Make sure that all meat and chilled ready-meals are thoroughly cooked before you eat them. If you can see any pinkness or blood on the meat, don't eat it.
• When you've handled raw meat, remember to wash your hands, cooking utensils and surfaces thoroughly afterwards.
• Don't eat cured meats, such as Parma ham and salami.
• Avoid unpasteurised milk and products made from it.
• Always wash fruit and vegetables, particularly if you are eating them raw, including ready-prepared salads.
• If you're gardening or handling soil or sand, wear gloves and wash your hands afterwards in case you have come into contact with cat faeces in the soil. Cover children's outdoor sand boxes to prevent cats using them as litter boxes.
• Wash your hands thoroughly after contact with sheep at farms and outdoor play centres with animals, and avoid handling newborn lambs.
• If you have a cat, use gloves when emptying the litter tray and wash your hands afterwards, or, if you can, get someone else to deal with the litter tray while you're pregnant. Empty the litter tray daily.

Babycenter.co.uk

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Up to one third of the world's human population is estimated to carry a Toxoplasma infection

A woman with no previous exposure should avoid handling raw meat, exposure to cat feces and gardening (cat feces are common in garden soil).

Transmission may occur through:

Ingestion of raw or partly cooked meat, especially pork, lamb, or venison containing Toxoplasma cysts. Infection prevalence in countries where undercooked meat is traditionally eaten has been related to this transmission method. Oocysts may also be ingested during hand-to-mouth contact after handling undercooked meat, or from using knives, utensils, or cutting boards contaminated by raw meat.[11]
Ingestion of contaminated cat feces. This can occur through hand-to-mouth contact following gardening, cleaning a cat's litter box, contact with children's sandpits, or touching anything that has come into contact with cat faeces.
Drinking water contaminated with Toxoplasma.
Transplacental infection in utero.
Receiving an infected organ transplant or blood transfusion, although this is extremely rare.[11]

Wikepedia - toxoplasmosis

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Toxoplasmosis is a common disease that occurs worldwide in most birds and warm-blooded mammals, including humans. 

Around a quarter to half of the world's population is thought to be infected. Around 1% of people in the UK catch toxoplasmosis each year.

Toxoplasmosis symptoms vary. In about 80% of cases, the infection causes no symptoms and you are not even aware that you infected. The immune system in healthy adults and children is usually strong enough to keep the T. gondii parasite in check - you become immune to it and it will live harmlessly in your body for life.

N.H.S. online - toxoplasmosis

 

 

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"Toxoplasmosis from Toxoplasma, which is a parasite that infects cats and many other mammals, including humans. It is primarily a concern for pregnant women as, if infection occurs during pregnancy, damage can occur to the developing foetus. Most human infections come from poor meat hygeine (handling undercooked meat, eating undercooked meat). However, for a short period after they are first infected, cats may shed eggs (oocysts) in their feaces, and thisis another potential source of infection for humans. Because of this, it is recommended that litter trays should always be emptied and dissinfected on a daily basis (the eggs don't become infectious for humans until more than 24hrs after they are shed in feaces) and that pregnant women are not involved in cleaning litter trays."
Oxford college - feline studies diploma

 

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