Toxoplasmosis is an infectious disease caused by the protozoa Toxoplasma gondii is caused. The first description of toxoplasmosis dates back to 1923. However, it was not fully clarified until almost 50 years later.
Read more on the topic: Intestinal parasites
Toxoplasmosis usually has no further symptoms and is usually harmless. For people with a weak immune system or an initial infection during pregnancy for unborn children is considered dangerous.
The symptoms of toxoplasmosis express themselves in a variety of ways. After being infected with Toxoplasma gondii, the affected person is immune to this infection for life and cannot get it again. This also applies to the pregnant woman, so that in this case there is no risk of infection for the unborn child (fetus) consists. If a toxoplasmosis infection occurs during pregnancy with damage to the child, this must be reported anonymously, i.e. without a name, according to the Infection Protection Act.
This infection can have serious consequences for the premature baby. Damage to the brain can lead to spastic cerebral palsy. Read more on the subject below: Spastic cerebral palsy
Occurrence in the population
The causative agent of Toxoplasmosis occurs worldwide. It is also very widespread in the population, so that three quarters of all people over the age of 50 carry the pathogen or at least have had contact with the pathogen.
About half of all pregnant women one finds antibodies in the blood. These indicate a previous infection with Toxoplasma gondii down.
Please also read: Toxoplasmosis in Pregnancy
The toxoplasmosis pathogen, Toxoplasma gondii, is a protozoan that can infect people, among other things, and nestles in various body cells and lives here as a parasite.
However, until the pathogen gets into humans, it is subject to its own development cycle. The sexual reproduction of Toxoplasma gondii takes place in the small intestine of cats. This creates so-called oocysts (type of egg cells), which the cat excretes in its surroundings with its feces. Here the oocysts go through various stages of development during the following days and finally remain in the form of the sporozoites (type of spores). At this stage, they can remain infectious for months.
Toxoplasma gondii is now transmitted through raw, undercooked meat containing the cysts or after contact with cat feces, for example when playing in the sandpit or cleaning the litter box.
The toxoplasmosis pathogen is also able to pass through the placenta and in this way reaches the fetus. This form of pathogen transmission is known as transplacental and is the only way of transmission from person to person.
After the pathogen has been ingested orally (through the mouth) through food or from dirty hands, the protozoa spreads through the blood. It first attacks cells of the immune system. In these it begins to divide and thereby fills the cell with more and more parasites.
This cell then breaks down and the pathogens get into the blood and spread throughout the body. In this way he reaches all organs. If the immune system notices the invading parasite, it starts defending itself about 6 days after the infection. This leads to the formation of small cavities with a tissue boundary (cyst) in which the pathogens are located. The cysts mainly develop in muscles and the brain. These cysts make the parasites resistant and can thus remain viable for a long time (persists).
To make sure that the pregnant woman is with Toxoplasma gondii infected, their blood is examined. This is done according to specific Antibodies wanted. By finding the antibodies, it can also be determined whether the toxoplasmosis infection already took place before the pregnancy or whether the pregnant woman is currently having one for the first time Toxoplasmosis is sick. This is done with the help of the various antibody subgroups. Initial infections lead to the formation of antibodies Group µwhich as IgM- antibodies are called. If there was an infection before, you can find it Group ? before that IgG- antibodies are called. This IgG-Antibodies can be detected for life.
It is also possible through samples from different organs for example the Mother cake (placenta) to determine the pathogen with the help of specific stains.
Therapy of toxoplasmosis
Mild or symptom-free infections of the Toxoplasmosis will not be with Medication treated. Basically, the therapy consists in the administration of Antibiotics. One treats the Toxoplasmosis up to the 16th week of pregnancy with a single antibiotic how Spiramycin.
Read more about the topic here: Antibiotics in Pregnancy
Combinations of antibiotics are given during later pregnancy. Therapy for pregnant women also counteracts the spread of the infection to the child. Newborns also receive a combination of different antibiotics for 6 to 12 months, depending on the regimen. Sick people with a poor immune situation (e.g. AIDS sufferers) are also treated with the help of antibiotics.
Will the Toxoplasmosis acquired after birth and if the patient has his entire immune function, the prognosis for the course of the disease is good. If the infection occurs during the pregnancy, the further course depends on the point in time and the extent.
Only about 10% of prenatally infected children are actually born with the disorders mentioned above. The vast majority are therefore healthy. However, some of them can show developmental disorders and the like in the further course.
If people with a weakened immune system develop toxoplasmosis, other diseases, such as the above, often occur in addition to the above symptoms Encephalitis (Encephalitis) or Inflammation of the lungs (pneumonia) or the Inflammation of the heart (Myocarditis), on. Therapy must be started in these patients, as otherwise the infection is fatal in most cases.
Pregnant women or people with weakened immune systems should make sure that the disease is a Toxoplasmosis is avoided. Avoiding raw, uncooked meat plays an essential role. By processing flesh the parasites are killed by cooking, smoking or curing. Vegetables, especially lettuce, should also be washed before eating. After contact with raw meat or after working in the garden, hand washing is a useful prevention.nutrition
Cats must be dealt with hygienically with subsequent hand washing. In domestic cats whose food does not contain raw meat, there is no possibility of infection for the owner. Free-range cats can ingest the pathogens of toxoplasmosis through mice or the like and infect people in their environment with it.
There is a test (Screening), which can reveal an earlier, also undetected, toxoplasmosis. However, this is not included in the official maternity guidelines so it is not done automatically. The test is useful for pregnant women who deal with Toxoplasma gondii have infected, for early detection and treatment. But also to instruct mothers who have not yet been infected to be more careful when handling cats and meat. Breastfeeding mothers should continue to use potentially infected materials carefully and preventively, e.g. deal with hand washing.