- Posted on- Oct 15, 2015
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Toxoplasmosis is a disease that results from infection of the Toxoplasma gondii parasite which can lay inactive in the retina for many years. But if the parasite becomes active again, it can start a new infection. In the eye, Toxoplasma infections frequently cause significant inflammation and subsequent scarring which may temporarily or permanently impair vision. Ocular toxoplasmosis can be congenital or acquired, and across the globe, toxoplasmosis is the most common cause of inflammation in the back of the eye.
Congenital toxoplasmosis is transmitted from the mother to the foetus across the placenta during pregnancy. Normally, newly infected women transmit the Toxoplasma organism to a foetus if they are infected during pregnancy or just before pregnancy. This can happen even if the mother does not have any signs or symptoms of infection. Babies born with congenital toxoplasmosis develop normally after treatment with antibiotics. But in some cases, serious complications can develop within the first years of life including permanent vision loss and permanent brain damage. Retinochoroiditis is a common complication of congenital toxoplasmosis.
The Toxoplasma organism lies in the intestinal tracts of many animals, particularly cats. Infectious organisms are shed in cat faeces, and introduced into the body by ingestion. The risk of infection can be reduced by practicing good hygiene including handwashing and avoiding raw or undercooked meat. It is sensible for pregnant women to avoid handling cat litter boxes, cat faeces, sandboxes, and any insects exposed to cat faeces.