Toxoplasmosis

Toxoplasmosis gondii is passed to humans through contact with infected animal feces, usually cats, or ingestion of contaminated meat. Direct contact with cats does not usually result in infection; however, stray cats or cats roaming on farms may contaminate the environment with T. gondii oocysts. In 1977, an outbreak of acute toxoplasmosis occurred in a riding stable in Atlanta that was linked to inhalation of aerosolized oocysts shed by cats in the stable. A multicenter case-control study in Europe found contact with soil was a strong risk factor for toxoplasmosis infection, attributed to 6% to 17% of primary infections in humans.

Infections during pregnancy are transplacentally transmitted to the fetus and can cause fetal death or permanent neurological damage. In the United States, sero-positivity is about 15%, but in some African countries the prevalence approaches 80%. Reports of stillbirth caused by toxoplasmosis in developed countries are rare. However, in developing countries where the prevalence may be much higher the contribution is unknown. Pregnant women should avoid contact with cat feces and wear gloves when working in soil (51).

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