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Congenital toxoplasmosis doing the rounds at Kuliyapitiya TH 

9 months ago

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  • Disease causes miscarriages, stillbirths, and severe complications in newborns
  • Doctor advises pregnant women to stay away from cats, which spread the disease  
BY Dinitha Rathnayake  Doctors at the Kuliyapitiya Teaching Hospital have reported cases of a disease that occurs in foetuses and in turn causes miscarriages and stillbirths in pregnant women, and serious complications among neonates (newborn children). According to Dr. Uthpala Sankalpa who is based in the Kuliyapitiya Medical Officer of Health (MOH) Office, this was revealed during a recent discussion held between doctors at the Hospital and the MOH’s disease prevention unit about the health of newborns. This disease, called congenital toxoplasmosis, occurs in foetuses infected with toxoplasma gondii, a protozoan parasite that is transmitted from the mother to the foetus. Cats are the usual host for these parasites, but children, adults, and other animals can also be infected. Humans and animals can become infected if they swallow the microscopic eggs of the parasite, or eat cysts in undercooked beef, lamb, pork, and venison (and the meat of other wild animals).  It can cause miscarriages or stillbirths in pregnant women. It can also cause serious and progressive, visual, auditory, motor, cognitive, nervous system, and skin related problems in children. It was revealed that several newborns have been diagnosed with the disease – which could cause damage to the baby's eyes, nervous system, skin and ears – at the hospital. Often, there are signs of infection at birth. However, babies with mild infection may not have symptoms for months or years after birth. Dr. Sankalpa has therefore instructed the public to be aware of the disease and for females not to be around cats during their pregnancy.

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