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What is toxoplasmosis

Toxoplasmosis is an infection that is transmitted through cats, raw meat or unpasteurized milk. It is contracted by eating uncooked meat or by ingesting toxoplasma as a result of contact with cat faeces containing the organism. Unfortunately, people who contract this infection usually do not display any symptoms. Occasionally some experience a mild feeling of malaise, slight fever, and swollen glands two or three days after exposure, followed by a rash a day or two later. The only way to be absolutely sure is by taking a blood test.

How does toxoplasmosis affect pregnancy

The occurrence of toxoplasmosis in the mother can cause foetal damage including permanent eye damage and mental retardation. An important consideration is the stage of pregnancy at which the infection occurs. The risk of foetal infection is inversely proportionate to the likelihood of foetal damage. 

The risk of foetal infection in the first trimester is about 15%, but the risk of foetal damage is high. In the second trimester, the likelihood of the foetus getting infected increases, but the risk of foetal damage reduces. The baby is most likely to be infected in the third trimester, but there is the least risk of foetal damage.

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