A pregnant woman with a toxoplasmosis infection might experience flu-like symptoms of fatigue, fever, muscle aches and swollen glands, but most women show no symptoms, explains WebMD. If a woman becomes infected just before getting pregnant or during her pregnancy, she can transmit the Toxoplasma parasite to her newborn, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although the infected infant usually shows no symptoms at birth, mental disability and blindness are possible later in life.
Newborns of mothers infected with Toxoplasma sometimes have brain damage or serious eye damage at birth, notes the CDC. Although a fetus usually receives protection from the mother’s immunity if she had a toxoplasmosis infection prior to conception, experts recommend that women wait six months after an infection before becoming pregnant. Doctors confirm toxoplasmosis through a blood test that determines the presence of antibodies to the Toxoplasma parasite.
Cats and kittens eat birds or small animals infected with toxoplasmosis and then pass the parasite through their feces for as long as three weeks after infection, reports the CDC. A pregnant woman can come in contact with the parasite while cleaning a cat’s litter box or touching gardening soil or sandbox contents with bare hands. If she touches her mouth with her contaminated hands or eats fruits or vegetables grown in contaminated soil, she can become infected.