Toxoplasmosis in pregnancy

Toxoplasmosis is an infection caused by the parasite Toxoplasma gondii that can affect the growing baby in pregnancy.

What is toxoplasmosis?

Toxoplasmosis is an infection caused by the parasite Toxoplasma gondii. In non-pregnant women it doesn’t have many symptoms. In fact, many people will never know they have had it. Some people may have mild flu-like symptoms. A few may experience a more long-term illness similar to glandular fever and swollen lymph nodes.

Although toxoplasmosis normally causes a mild illness in people with healthy immune systems, it's risky during pregnancy because it may harm your baby. 

The parasite can be found in meat, cat faeces, the soil where cats defecate and unpasteurised goats’ milk. The toxoplasma parasite can infect most birds and warm-blooded animals, including humans. Cats are the only animals that can have infected faeces. After it catches the infection through eating birds, mice or other raw meat, a cat can shed infectious faeces for about 14 days.

Toxoplasmosis cannot be caught by stroking a cat or having a cat as a pet. The infection comes from coming into contact with the infected faeces of a cat.

How common is toxoplasmosis?

It is estimated that between a third and half of the UK population will have the infection at some point in their lives. Once you have had the infection, you are then immune for life – you cannot catch it again. Around 2,000 UK women per year contract toxoplasmosis during pregnancy.

Most pregnant women may never know they have been infected unless they experience problems during their pregnancy that mean they have tests. However the infection often has no symptoms at all.

The effects of toxoplasmosis in pregnancy

Toxoplasmosis does not usually cause any symptoms and in most cases a person does not realise they have caught the infection. It can cause symptoms similar to flu or glandular fever, sometimes including swollen lymph nodes. Once a person has had the disease they are generally thought to be protected for life, unless they suffer an impairment of their immune system.

Risks of toxoplasmosis

Toxoplasmosis is only a risk to an unborn baby if caught for the first time during pregnancy or within a few weeks before you get pregnant.

If an unborn baby catches the disease they are said to have ‘congenital toxoplasmosis’. The damage the infection may cause will depend on when in pregnancy you got the infection.

If you catch toxoplasmosis for the first time during pregnancy, it does not mean that your baby will be infected.

On average, only 4 in 10 of such infections will pass to the baby. Caught during pregnancy, toxoplasmosis can cause miscarriage, stillbirth or damage to the baby’s brain and other organs, particularly the eyes.

However, most babies born with toxoplasmosis have no obvious damage at birth but develop symptoms, usually eye damage, during childhood or even adulthood. A few will have more serious symptoms such as blindness or brain damage. 

How is toxoplasmosis caught?

Toxoplasmosis is caught by swallowing anything infected with, or contaminated by, the parasite.
This could be:

  • raw or undercooked meat (meat showing any traces of pink or blood), and raw cured meat such as Parma ham or salami
  • unwashed vegetables and fruit
  • cat faeces or soil contaminated with cat faeces
  • unpasteurised goats’ milk and dairy products made from it.

The infection can also be passed:

  • through the placenta if the mother becomes infected infection (mother to unborn baby).
  • through infected matter entering human body fluids; if, for example, during the process of lambing, material splashes into eyes or open cuts.
  • through transplanted organs or blood products from other humans that are infected toxoplasmosis
  • through inhaling the parasite eggs (possible but very unusual).

Person-to-person infection is not possible, except from mother to unborn child.

Who is at risk of toxoplasmosis?

Anyone who eats anything infected with the parasite. Pregnant women who work on the land, in catering or farming may be at higher risk as they may be more likely to come into contact with the parasite. Lambing is a particular risk for pregnant women.

Tips to avoid toxoplasmosis during pregnancy

Only eat meat that has been thoroughly cooked (ie, with no trace of blood or pinkness).

  • Avoid raw meat and cured meat, such as Parma ham.
  • Wash hands, chopping boards and utensils thoroughly after preparing raw meat.
  • Wash all fruit and vegetables thoroughly before cooking/eating to remove all traces of soil.
  • Avoid unpasteurised goats’ milk and dairy products made from it.
  • Wear gloves when gardening and wash hands and gloves afterwards – if you eat while gardening wash your hands first, and try to avoid gardening in areas that may have been soiled with cat faeces.
  • Cover children’s sandpits to prevent cats using them as litter boxes.
  • Remove faeces from cat litter tray every day wearing rubber gloves (or ask someone else do this), scald trays regularly with boiling water.
  • If you are handling litter trays, wash gloves and hands thoroughly afterwards.
  • Do not handle lambing ewes and do not bring lambs into the house.

Can I change the cat litter tray while pregnant?

Cats are the only animals that can shed this parasite in their faeces. Provided precautions are taken, cats are not a particular risk to a pregnant woman. If you are handling litter trays, wash gloves and hands thoroughly afterwards.

What should I do if I think I may have toxoplasmosis?

Toxoplasmosis is not routinely tested for during pregnancy in the UK. You may however request a blood test from your GP if you feel you may have put yourself at risk, you are concerned about symptoms.

The blood test looks for antibodies – the body’s natural defences – to the infection. It may take three weeks for these antibodies to be present following an infection, so the blood test will only pick up an infection that you’ve had for at least three weeks. Depending on the type of antibodies found and whether levels are stable, rising or falling, it’s possible to determine when the infection took place.

The results may come back in a week, or longer if they have been passed on to a Toxoplasma Reference Laboratory .

Tests for toxoplasmosis in pregnancy

Blood tests for toxoplasmosis can be done at any stage before or during pregnancy. The blood test can usually only show possible infection two to three weeks after any risk incident, as it can take this long for antibodies to be detectable.

The blood test involves taking a small amount of blood from the mother. There is no risk to the unborn baby. The blood test aims to show whether certain antibodies indicating toxoplasmosis are present or not, and, if they are present, to find out when the infection happened.

If the tests show that there is a recent or current infection, there is a risk that the baby will be infected. The obstetrician or GP will make a recommendation about any further action that might be required. It may take several weeks for the infection to pass from you to your baby. The degree of risk and severity of damage depends on when you were infected.

A positive result due to a current/recent infection

If the test shows a current or recent infection the blood must be sent on from the local laboratory to the Toxoplasma Reference Laboratory, for confirmation and further testing.

A small percentage of tests will appear positive when in reality a woman has never had the disease.

If further tests show that you have a current or recent infection, it means you are suffering from an acute toxoplasma infection. Further action needs to be taken to assess the risk of passing the infection on to your baby.

If you were infected shortly before conception

Infection caught shortly before conception (within a few weeks before) carries a one percent risk or below of transmission to the baby, but there is a risk of miscarriage if the baby does become infected.

If you were infected in the first trimester (week one to 12)

Infection caught at this stage of pregnancy carries about 10-15% risk of transmission to the baby. A baby infected at this stage has a risk of being miscarried or born with severe symptoms such as hydrocephalus (water on the brain), calcifications of the brain, or retinochoroiditis (inflammation of the retina).

If you were infected in the second trimester (week 13 to 28)

Infection caught at this stage of pregnancy brings about 25% risk of transmission. A baby infected at this stage is less likely to be miscarried, but is still at risk of developing severe symptoms as above.

If you were infected in the third trimester (week 29 to 40)

Infection caught later in pregnancy is more likely to spread to your baby, the risk of transmission may be as high as 70–80%, but if problems develop, they are less likely to be as serious. Most babies infected will be apparently healthy at birth, but a large proportion will develop symptoms later in life, usually eye damage.

Finding out if the baby has been infected

Further tests can be carried out to find out whether or not the baby is infected, although the tests will not show how severe the damage is. An obstetrician or GP can explain the risks and benefits of conducting these tests.

Amniocentesis is a technique where amniotic fluid is removed by a fine needle from the amniotic sac – the fluid-filled sac around the baby.

Cordocentesis is a technique where a sample of the baby’s blood is removed from the umbilical cord.

These procedures carry a .5-1% percent risk of causing miscarriage. They are normally carried out after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The amniotic fluid or blood from the umbilical cord is then tested at the Toxoplasma Reference Laboratory using a range of specialised tests.

If this is positive, the baby will be considered to be infected. Results typically take two to five days. A detailed ultrasound scan will show if there is major damage, such as hydrocephalus (water on the brain), but a scan that shows no damage, while reassuring, does not rule out the possibility that the baby is both infected and affected.

Treatment of toxoplasmosis in pregnancy

If you have a positive blood test result, you may be prescribed an antibiotic called spiramycin, which reduces the risk of the infection being passed from you to the baby. Spiramycin only reduces the risk of transmission from mother to baby and is not active against the parasite. It therefore cannot limit any damage if a baby has already become infected.

If the baby is found to be infected, a combination of pyrimethamine and sulphadiazine can be taken. These are both stronger antibiotics and help limit any damage to the baby, although again, they cannot undo any damage.

At 20 weeks an ultrasound scan may also highlight any obvious physical problems in the baby. Termination of pregnancy is also an option for some women, when an infected baby with severe developmental problems has been confirmed.

All babies born to women with confirmed toxoplasmosis in pregnancy will be monitored closely by paediatricians and receive blood tests during their first year.

Side effects of treatments

Spiramycin is used routinely in France for treatment of toxoplasmosis in pregnancy, with little evidence of adverse effects. Experts consider that it is safe to use in pregnancy when a baby is at risk. Women taking spiramycin sometimes experience side effects such as nausea or rashes. Pyrimethamine and sulphadiazine can have side effects for both the mother and baby related to red-blood cell production. Although not normally prescribed in pregnancy, they can be used in extreme circumstances. They are taken with folinic acid, which helps to reduce the worst side effects.

All babies born to women who have had a recent or current infection in pregnancy should be given a thorough physical examination after birth, followed by blood tests during the first year of the baby’s life.

Treatment after the baby is born

Blood sample

A blood sample should be taken from at-risk babies shortly after birth. A blood sample should also then be taken from you to compare the levels of specific antibodies between you and your baby.

Tests will be carried out to look for different types of antibodies to toxoplasmosis in the baby’s blood. Your baby carries some of your antibodies, so a positive result is expected and not necessarily alarming. If additional antibodies are present, this may indicate that your baby is infected.

Other checks/examinations

Babies who are known to be at risk of having congenital toxoplasmosis should be checked for signs of neurological damage. The eyes will be examined for signs of any problem, preferably by an ophthalmologist (eye specialist). Long-term follow-up by an ophthalmologist might be necessary if eye damage is confirmed.

Your baby’s general health will also be checked. If there is any possibility that the baby has brain damage, special head X-rays might be carried out to check for calcifications, enlarged ventricles or any other abnormalities.

Treatment for babies who have been infected with toxoplasmosis

If blood tests showed that your baby has been infected, antibiotics might be prescribed, even if your baby shows no symptoms. Treatment can sometimes be continued for as long as one year, to help prevent or limit the eye damage that can possibly occur later.

Further tests/examinations

A blood sample taken every few months, up to the age of one year, can show whether your baby’s antibody level is falling. By that age, the level should be completely negative. This means that your baby will have lost the antibodies acquired from you and is not infected. When your baby’s blood sample is completely antibody-negative, it means they are definitely not congenitally infected. A falling antibody level is a good sign, but is not conclusive and tests should continue until the antibody level is completely negative.

Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is safe if you have toxoplasmosis, the disease cannot be transmitted this way. You are also passing on extra antibodies to your baby, making their immune system stronger. Breastfeeding is therefore recommended, unless you are being treated with pyrimethamine. This medication should be changed before breastfeeding.

UK government policy on toxoplasmosis screening

The UK National Screening Committee recently reported that screening for toxoplasmosis in pregnancy should not be offered routinely as there is not enough evidence that it would help .

The Committee suggests that getting pregnant women to avoid undercooked or cured meat and communicating the best ways of avoiding infection is a better way of controlling toxoplasmosis than antenatal screening.

Sources

  1. Ho-Yen DO, Joss AWL (eds.) Human Toxoplasmosis. Oxford Oxford Medical Publications, 1992
  2. Joynson DHM, Wreghitt TG. Toxoplasmosis: A Comprehensive Clinical Guide. Cambridge Cambridge University Press, 2001
  3. The Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food. Risk Profile in Relation to Toxoplasma in the Food Chain. London Foods Standards Agency, 2012
  4. Hall S, Ryan M, Buxton D. The epidemiology of toxoplasma infection in Joynson DHM, Wreghitt TG, (eds.) Toxoplasmosis: A Comprehensive Clinical Guide. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2001: 58-124.5
  5. Elsheikha HM. Congenital toxoplasmosis: priorities for further health promotion action. Public Health, 2008; 122(4): 335-53
  6. Krick JA and Remington JS. Toxoplasmosis in the adult overview. N England J Med 1978; 298: 550-3.7
  7. Thulliez P. Maternal and foetal infection, In Joynson DHM, Wreghitt TG, (eds). Toxoplasmosis: A Comprehensive Clinical Guide, Cambridge Cambridge University Press, 2001: 193-213.8
  8. Remington JS, McLeod R, Desmonts G. Toxoplasmosis. In Remington JS, Krupp MA, Klein JO (eds), Infectious Diseases of the Fetus and Newborn Infant, 5th Ed. Philadelphia W.B. Saunders Company, 2000: 205-346.9
  9. Public Health Wales. Results of Toxoplasma Study. Cardiff Public Health Wales, 2007 (available at: http://www.wales.nhs.uk/sitesplus/888/news/14491) (accessed December 2013)
  10. Health Protection Agency. Investigation of Toxoplasma Infection in Pregnancy. UK Standards for Microbiology Investigations 5 Issue 2.2. London HPS, 2012  (http://www.hpa.org.uk/SMI/pdf) (accessed December 2013)
  11. Toxoplasma Reference Unit, Public Health Wales, Edward Guy. Personal communication, 2012
  12. Desmonts G, Couvreur J, Thulliez P. Congenital Toxoplasmosis: Five cases with mother-to-child transmission of pre-pregnancy infection. Press Med 1990; 19: 1445-49.13
  13. Dunn D et al. Mother-to-child transmission of toxoplasmosis: risk estimates for clinical counselling. Lancet 1999; 353: 1829-33.14
  14. Hohlfeld P et al. Prenatal diagnosis of congenital toxoplasmosis with a polymerase-chain-reaction test on amniotic fluid. N Engl J Med 1994; 331: 695-9.15
  15. Gras L et al. Association between prenatal treatment and clinical manifestations of congenital toxoplasmosis in infancy: a cohort study in 13 European centres. Acta Paediatr 2005; 94: 1721-31.16
  16. McCabe R.E. Anti-Toxoplasma Chemotherapy. In Joynson DHM, Wreghitt TG (eds.) Toxoplasmosis: A Comprehensive Clinical Guide. Cambridge Cambridge University Press, 2001: 319-359
  17. Daveluy et al, for the Eurotoxo Group (panel 2). Review of data related to side effects of drugs used in congenital toxoplasmosis [unpublished report]. Bordeaux, France The Eurotoxo Group, 2005 
  18. Alex W, Joss L. Treatment. In Ho-Yen DO, Joss AWL (eds.) Human Toxoplasmosis. Oxford Oxford Medical Publications, 1992: 119-143
  19. Eaton RB et al. Newborn screening for congenital toxoplasma infection. In Joynson DHM, Wreghitt TG (eds) Toxoplasmosis: A Comprehensive Clinical Guide. Cambridge Cambridge University Press, 2001: 241-253
  20. Sanchez PJ and Ahmed A. Toxoplasmosis, Syphilis, Malaria and Tuberculosis. In Taeusch HW, Ballard RA, Gleason CA (eds.) Avery’s Diseases of the Newborn, 8th Ed. Philadelphia Elsevier Saunders, 2004: 531
  21. Bonametti AM, Passos JN. Research Letters (to the editor): Re: Probable transmission of acute toxoplasmosis through breastfeeding. Journal of Tropical Paediatrics 1997; 43: 116
  22. Goldfarb J. Breastfeeding. AIDS and other infectious diseases. Clin Perinatol 1993; 20: 225-243
  23. NSC (2015) Antenatal screening for Toxoplasmosis. External review against criterIA set by the UK Mational Screening Committee, UK National Screening Committee file:///C:/Users/user/Downloads/Review_Toxoplasmosis_2016.pdf

 

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Last reviewed on October 3rd, 2016. Next review date October 3rd, 2019.

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Comments

  • By Anonymous (not verified) on 11 Jul 2018 - 16:08

    Hi, I've just moved into a new house and there was soil on the carpet - it is obviously quite old as the house has been empty for a month, but was dusty when I scraped it up. I'm 10-11 weeks pregnant and I ate a sandwich (and may have put my hand in my mouth) before I remember to wash them - I don't know if the soil is from outside, the garden etc but the previous owners had a cat. Is there a toxoplasma risk? Thank you very much

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 12 Jul 2018 - 16:02

    Hi,
    It does not sound like there has been any risk to you contracting toxoplasmosis, the virus needs warm moist soil to stay alive, the fact that the soil was dried out means that it would be stay alive. It also sounds like you are unsure if you even ingested any of the soil in the first place therefore would not be at risk of toxoplasmosis. If you are worried you can get a blood test however it is an expensive test which GPs will only do for a good reason so I cannot guarantee they will do this for you.
    I hope this reassures you
    Best wishes
    Tommy's midwife

  • By Anonymous (not verified) on 12 Jul 2018 - 16:35

    Thanks so much - sounds like the stress of worrying is worse than anything in this situation :) just checking you meant "not" instead of "be" in this though - "the fact that the soil was dried out means that it would be stay alive."?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 12 Jul 2018 - 16:41

    Yes, sorry! I meant would not stay alive in dry soil

  • By Anonymous (not verified) on 10 Jul 2018 - 13:50

    Hello

    This is my first pregnancy (11 weeks) and I have accidentally touched some potting soil/compost in the pot of my indoor Aloe Vera plant at work before touching my face and mouth. I’m extremely anxious about having contracted toxoplasmosis. Please can you advise?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 11 Jul 2018 - 16:01

    There is no risk of Toxoplasmosis from touching indoor plants and you can continue to do your indoor gardening without any concerns. Take care

  • By Soph (not verified) on 6 Jul 2018 - 19:44

    Hi, a friend of mine was wearing a jacket that had dried mud on it from a garden centre visit three months ago, and she touched her jacket and then touched food I may then have eaten. Is there a toxoplasmosis risk in this case? Have severe pregnancy anxiety. I am 10 weeks pregnant. Thanks

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 9 Jul 2018 - 12:19

    Hi Soph, There is no risk from this jacket. The parasite would not live this long in this environment. Please be reassured that you have not put your pregnancy at risk.

  • By Soph (not verified) on 9 Jul 2018 - 14:16

    Also, she's now saying it was maybe two months ago...still the same outcome?? Thanks!

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 9 Jul 2018 - 14:44

    The parasite lives in the infected faeces of cats. Mud in itself is not a risk. The risk comes if you handle cat poo that has been recently infected by the parasite. Please be reassured that the mud on your friend's jacket is not a risk for toxoplasmosis

  • By Sophhigh1 (not verified) on 6 Jul 2018 - 15:49

    Hi I’m 30 weeks pregnant currently on holiday in Spain I’ve eatwn 3 slices of olive roll which is similar to a luncheon meat in a Spanish restaraunt I am now panicking about toxiplasmosis I avoided chorizo and salami and thought I would be safe with the olive roll but can’t help but panic what are the chances of toxiplasmosis should I be worried ? Thanks

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 9 Jul 2018 - 12:27

    I don't know what olive roll is and whether the meat is cooked or uncooked. Remember that the risk of contracting toxoplasmosis when eating uncooked or cured meats is low but if you are concerned just ask your GP to do a blood test when you get back from your holiday. Take care

  • By Ruby (not verified) on 4 Jul 2018 - 12:30

    Hi I was living in South Africa for 2 years and I can only be sure I contracted toxo from there. When I was 5 weeks pregnant my blood test showed 1.50 positive toxo. At 8 weeks I had a missed miscarriage is it possible I infected the baby with toxo what should I do to cure myself as we do want to try for another baby?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 5 Jul 2018 - 14:06

    Hi Ruby, Thank you for your comment, we are so sorry to hear about your miscarriage.
    With regards to your question, if you have already been exposed to toxoplasmosis, then you will be immune to the organism already, this means that in a future pregnancy, this immunity will also be passed on to baby so that they are protected. It may be advisable to get your bloods checked again to see if you do have this immunity from your previous exposure. Your GP should be able to do this for you. Hope this helps, Take Care, Tommy's Midwives x

  • By What should I do? (not verified) on 3 Jul 2018 - 20:11

    Last night I went to dinner with my family and on the way out of the restaurant I dropped something on the ground and I picked it up on their flower landscaping. It was some flowers surrounded by wood chips. I didn’t think anything of it. We got home and had some ice cream for dessert when all of a sudden I thought about maybe I should’ve washed my hands before I ate anything else! I don’t remember getting any type of wood chips or dirt on me so figure everything should be ok? I’m still worried tho. Since I ate ice cream and didn’t specifically use my fingers to eat could that help eliminate any type of exposure? I washed my hands when I thought about all this, but still worried. I’m 31 weeks pregnant and feel so dumb for being in the homestretch and then this happens. How long does the infection take to pass through the placenta? If it’s several can I just be induced eventually? Do people ever do that to avoid possible exposure ? Thank you for your response

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 5 Jul 2018 - 12:45

    Hi, Thank you for your comment.

    Please feel reassured that it is highly unlikely that you have been exposed the toxoplasmosis. There was no cat faeces on the wood chip and if you were picking something up then you wouldn't of touched anything that surrounded the area. You didn't put your fingers in your mouth and you ate using a spoon and you washed your hands when you felt like you needed too. Exposure to Toxo is around 2 to 3 weeks after the event before he antibody can be detected on a blood test. Please go to the following link for more information about Toxoplasmosis exposure on the Tommy's website https://www.tommys.org/pregnancy-information/pregnancy-complications/infections-pregnancy/toxoplasmosis-pregnancy
    If you think that you have been exposed to Toxo then the GP will be able to offer you a blood test from this. Hope this helps, take care, Tommy's Midwives x

  • By Rachel (not verified) on 1 Jul 2018 - 00:29

    Hello! I am 11 weeks pregnant with my first, and have been experiencing flu-like symptoms, such as aches, chills, constantly cold and goosebumpy, just overall feeling sick towards night time for over a month now on and off. I got my doctor to check my immune status through blood work a couple weeks ago because I feared listeriosis. But she said the results were normal but didn’t go into much depth other than that I’m fine and the symptoms must just be a part of pregnancy. But then I read about toxoplasmosis and saw that it said that symptoms are flu-like and can last over a month. I had an ultrasound at 8 weeks and the heartbeat was 164, a good sign. And that everything looked normal. But I am now very worried that I may have toxoplasmosis. My question is, if I was infected would that have shown on an immunity blood test because of white blood cells or something? Or do they have to do a specific screening to determine toxoplasmosis infection? Thank you for your response.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 2 Jul 2018 - 13:35

    You would need to have a specific blood test looking for antibodies to the toxoplasmosis infection. Just ask your GP to arrange the testing if it has been at least 3 weeks since you may have been infected.

  • By Roni (not verified) on 25 Jun 2018 - 22:15

    I’m 30 weeks pregnant and my son played near an open large sandbox at the pool. I wasn’t there with him, but he said he didn’t go in it. Just by the area. Anyways, he wore pool shoes after that, but I didn’t notice anything on the shoes. I touched them tho to pick them up and now I’m worried I possibly exposed myself to toxo. Should I be worried or am I over thinking this? I’m just worried he stepped near sand then put his shoes on and then I touched them the day after near the bottom of the shoe. Can toxo live on shoes? I washed my hands, but not for a little while after because I didn’t think of it until after.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 27 Jun 2018 - 11:10

    Hi,
    Toxoplasmosis only presents a problem if you are exposed to it and infected for the first time in pregnancy and since oocysts (eggs) are transmitted by ingestion, in order to contract toxoplasmosis, a pregnant woman would have to make contact with contaminated faeces and then, without washing her hands, touch her mouth or otherwise transmit the contaminated faecal matter to her digestive system. If you take necessary precautions – such as regular hand washing - the risk is minimal. You are right that the sandpit could be contaminated but the cat that in theory defecated in the sandpit would have had to have been infected at the time.

    We also advise women to thoroughly wash any fruit or vegetables that may have been grown in potentially infected soil – due to the risk of infective spores which can survive in the soil for long periods. This does not usually present a risk if you buy commercially grown produce – but may be more of a risk if you grow your own fresh produce in a garden or allotment, or at your farm cats may defecate in the soil.

    If you think that you would like to have a blood test for peace of mind, you can either ask your GP if your local hospital provides private blood screening tests; alternatively you can search online – as there are many private clinics and labs offering this test. You should expect to pay at least £100 or more in most cases. I would advise you to ask for both Toxoplasma IgG & IgM blood tests. The risk is minimal to contract toxoplasmosis from the sand but if it is going to cause you great anxiety you might want to find out more about the blood test.

    Warm regards
    Anna-Tommy's Midwife


  • By Rebecca (not verified) on 24 Jun 2018 - 14:53

    Hi,
    I’ve had such anxiety during my pregnancy. I ate a foot long subway sandwich containing salami and pepperoni. I’m 29 weeks and absolutely terrified that I could have harmed my baby. I went to see a GP who did not take me seriously at all and made comments like ‘how has the human race survived’ etc. I see my midwife again in a few weeks which would be the right time to check for an infection (3 weeks from eating the sandwich). I’m terrified she also will not take my concerns seriously about a toxoplasmosis infection. Do you have any advice? Becky

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 27 Jun 2018 - 11:28

    Hi Becky,
    Toxoplasmosis is an infection caused by a parasite. While many of us will be infected at some time in our lives it rarely has any implications and we only really take extra precautions when we are pregnant. We advise against eating uncooked meat including cured meats like salami but in reality the risk is extremely small. If you have caught the infection for the first time in this pregnancy, there is still only a small risk that you would pass this on to your baby.
    It is thought that up to half the UK population has been exposed to this parasite and so have natural immunity to it. You may also have been in contact with cats as you grew up so you are also likely to have had exposure; and therefore immunity to Toxoplasmosis.
    If you are still really worried you could have a private blood test. I would advise you to ask for both Toxoplasma IgG & IgM blood tests. The IgG test measures your immunity – a positive IgG antibody test would indicate you are already immune to this infection. IgM positive would indicate that you may have had had a recent or active infection and further tests would then be required. Please don't worry on your own though! You can always call us for anything 9-5 weekdays on 0800 0147 800
    Warmest wishes
    Anna-Tommy's midwife

  • By Jo (not verified) on 16 Jun 2018 - 18:41

    I drank some water from a glass at my friend’s house and my son has since told me their cat drank from that glass prior to me drinking from it. Is there any risk of toxoplasmosis? I am 35 weeks pregnant.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 18 Jun 2018 - 16:32

    No. This would not be high risk. The parasite is found in the faeces of some affected cats. You cannot contract it from stroking a cat or by touching something that the cat has drunk from. If you are concerned that you have put yourself at risk you can request a test through your GP.

  • By Carly (not verified) on 1 Jun 2018 - 16:53

    I accidentally ate some unpasteurized feta cheese on holiday in Crete. It was the one occasion when I didn't verify the feta was pasteurized (it almost always is) and I'm now kicking myself. It was a family-run taverna and the waiter told me that his father had made the cheese (and had been doing so for 34 years). I don't know if the cheese was made from sheeps milk or goats milk. I have requested a blood test for listeria but wasn't aware that unpasteurized dairy products were also a risk for toxoplasmosis. Should I request a test for this too? I'm 26 weeks pregnant and ate the cheese about 2 weeks ago.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 4 Jun 2018 - 14:42

    Hi Carly, The chance of contracting toxoplasmosis from eating goats cheese are very small but if you feel that you have put yourself at risk you can request a blood test through your GP. Waiting until 3 weeks after possible infection is sensible as it can take this long for antibodies to show.

  • By Carly (not verified) on 4 Jun 2018 - 23:25

    Thank you for your advice. I shall request a blood test next week.

  • By Anonymous (not verified) on 30 May 2018 - 10:22

    I am 22 weeks pregnant and a week ago I got soil in a cut on my hand. I know my cats poo in the garden and I am now terrified about toxoplasmosis. My booking bloods show no antibodies so I’m now waiting a couple of weeks for a test for current infection. Is anyone able to advise how high the chances are of contracting toxoplasmosis this way?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 1 Jun 2018 - 10:10

    Please be reassured that the risk would still be low. It is unknown if there was any cat's poo in the soil that go into your cut and if indeed the cats carry the toxoplasmosis virus, but it sounds sensible to have a blood test done just to be on the safe side.
    Best wishes
    Tommy's midwife

  • By Andi (not verified) on 22 May 2018 - 19:56

    I am 30 weeks
    Pls 3 . This might sound silly but I was
    Chatting to an old man in his garden who was
    Wearing dirty gardening clothes. Whilst chatting he took me by the bare arm with his gloved hand and immediately I worried in case he had previously come into contact with cat poo. I was very careful not to contact my mouth and had a bath as soon as I got home. Is it worth getting this checked? The incident has triggered my health anxiety.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 24 May 2018 - 10:43

    Hi Andi,
    Thank you for your comment. Please feel reassured that the risk of you contracting Toxo is the lowest in can possibly be. You didn't have any open cuts on your arm and you had a bath as soon as you got home. It is understandable that this has made you anxious but the likelihood of you being exposed is next to nothing. Hope this helps, take care Tommy's Midwives x

  • By Jo (not verified) on 18 May 2018 - 18:01

    I just found out I’m pregnant (around 4/5 weeks I think). 2 weeks ago I was doing some gardening in our garden, some without gloves but mostly using gloves. I was very vigilant with washing my hands. However I did have a fall onto the soil and scratched my foot slightly. I washed my hands and foot straight after. I do not believe there are cats which visit our garden, I have never seen one.
    Are there any risks here?
    I’m going to struggle to get a midwife appointment (as they work two days a week) or a gp appointment as it’s a weekend. I think I may just be being overly cautious and paranoid! Thank you

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 21 May 2018 - 10:07

    Hi Jo, There is no hurry to get an appointment as it takes a few weeks for the body to develop the antibodies.. Your risk is very low but the only way to be completely sure would be to do a test. When you go to see your GP to arrange your antenatal care you could mention your concerns. Take care.

  • By Lara (not verified) on 13 May 2018 - 09:34

    I made toxoplasma test in the first trimester and it was all negative igM was 0.2
    Now I am 24 week pregnant and four days ago I accidentally ate burger and during eating the second one I found that it contains pink parts which means that it hasn't been well cooked I got afraid and in the next morning I got toxoplasma test as I don't know how it takes to appear in blood today I received the results and it was negative igM 0.4 I am afraid from that raise from 0.2 to 0.4 as it may mean that there will be further increase and when is the best time to make the test again

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 14 May 2018 - 16:00

    The blood test can usually only show possible infection two to three weeks after any risk incident, as it can take this long for antibodies to be detectable.

  • By Julie (not verified) on 12 May 2018 - 16:13

    Hi. My 4 year old touched an owl and then touched me. My hands. My husband tried to clean her hands but too late .... I am 16 weeks. What are the chances I could have contracted taxoplasmosis?

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 14 May 2018 - 16:43

    Toxoplasmosis is caught by swallowing anything infected with, or contaminated by, the parasite. As long as you washed your hands before touching your mouth or handling food, there is no risk.

  • By Julie (not verified) on 15 May 2018 - 18:00

    Hi I think I did wash hands as quickly as I could have. Still a wait. I don’t imagine I put my hands to my mouth, but I was dealing with a young child who was putting her own hands in her mouth! I can’t be 100 percent about my actions..... Still think I am okay? Thanks so much!

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 16 May 2018 - 12:23

    Hi Julie,

    It sounds like you will be ok as you were dealing with your little girl who was putting her fingers in her mouth, so you wouldn't of been doing that to yourself as you were busy with her and you washed your hands like we advise so the risk of you contracting anything is the lowest it could possibly be. If you are still concerned then you can always go to see your GP who can do a simple blood test for Toxoplasmosis if you feel that you need further reassurance. Hope this helps, take care, Tommy's Midwives x

  • By Lara (not verified) on 9 May 2018 - 12:28

    I made toxoplasma test in the first trimester and it was all negative igM was 0.2
    Now I am 24 week pregnant and four days ago I accidentally ate burger and during eating the second one I found that it contains pink parts which means that it hasn't been well cooked I got afraid and in the next morning I got toxoplasma test as I don't know how it takes to appear in blood today I received the results and it was negative igM 0.4 I am afraid from that raise from 0.2 to 0.4 as it may mean that there will be further increase and when is the best time to make the test again

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 10 May 2018 - 10:51

    Hi Lara.
    Please do not worry about the numbers part of the result. The only part that is significant is that both tests are NEGATIVE. So you do not have Toxoplasmosis.
    You do not need to do the test again unless you feel that you have been exposed for a third time during your pregnancy.
    If you wish to call and talk this through, you can on 0800 0147800
    All the best
    Sophie,Tommy's Midwife

  • By Sarah (not verified) on 7 May 2018 - 11:02

    Hi, I went out yesterday with some friends from work to Hard Rock Cafe and decided to have a burger it seemed like the best option, however the burger was slightly pink, I only ate half of it as my anxiety got the better of me. how high is the rust of me getting and passing toxoplasmosis onto my baby? I'm 14 weeks preganant, the meat wasn't bleeding or anything.

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 10 May 2018 - 10:48

    Hi Sarah
    I am afraid that any raw,pink or bloody meat carries a small risk of toxoplasmosis- hence why we advise for all meat to be well cooked through and no traces of pink or blood to be present. Please try not to worry, as transmission risk is likely to be very low, but for your own peace of mind, it would be sensible for you to go to your GP for a Toxolplasmosis blood test. If you wish to talk this through in any more detail (as i am sure you have read the article above) then call us on 0800 0147800
    Take care
    Sophie, Tommy's Midwife

  • By Sarah (not verified) on 5 May 2018 - 00:45

    Hi i am currently waiting on my results for toxoplasmosis. It has been a week and they are not back does this indicate a positive result .thanks

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 10 May 2018 - 10:42

    Hi Sarah,
    No, not at all. It takes a little while for this test to come back and as it is a very in-depth test. I know it's a worry, but sit tight. It takes at least three days for the test to be undertaken once it has reached the labs. If you are concerned, you can call your GP surgery to find out when they are expected to be back. I wish you all the best
    Sophie,Tommy's Midwife

  • By Louise (not verified) on 27 Apr 2018 - 14:07

    Hi,
    I’ve just had my lunch, to which I have had lamb doner meat and chips.
    I’m 7 week s pregnant and it’s now worrying me how we classify lamb doner meat in relation to uncooked meat and am now worried if I have put my baby at risk of toxoplasmosis?

  • By Dina (not verified) on 24 Apr 2018 - 20:38

    Hello,

    I have been reading about toxoplasmosis in pregnancy, but still there is an aspect that I do not understand.

    I've had the toxo screening 6 months before preganancy and the results were: IgG positive, IgM negative. I repeted the tests in the first pregnancy month and the same results.

    Do I have lifelong toxoplasmosis immunity or can the infection get reactivated? If it is reactivated during pregnacy, the effects on the baby are the same as if the infection first apeared in pregnacy?

    The reason why I'm asking is because I ate some steak made of minced meat and know i'm thinking that it was undercooked... Should I get tested again for toxo?

    Thank you for your answer!

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 27 Apr 2018 - 15:26

    Hi _ thank you for your message.
    It is estimated that between a third and half of the UK population will have the infection at some point in their lives. Once you have had the infection, you are then immune for life – you cannot catch it again.
    If you are however concerned about Toxoplasmosis please contact your GP who can arrange a blood test if it is required.

  • By Anonymous (not verified) on 23 Apr 2018 - 21:03

    I would like to ask what's the chance of me being infected by accidentally eating raw meat in burger?I may had one or 2 mountfulls before I spotted burger still got raw meat in it....I am currently 24 weeks pregnant.thank you for answer

  • By Midwife @Tommys on 26 Apr 2018 - 13:17

    Hi, Thank you for our question.
    If you think that you may have been exposed to Toxoplasmosis then you can get a simple blood test through the GP. Meat is normally very well sourced but as you may have eaten raw meat it would be better to get the blood test for your reassurance. Take Care, Tommy's Midwives x

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