Strain Of Common Toxoplasmosis Parasite Related To Severe Complications In Newborns
Scientists from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health have found strains of the Toxoplasma gondii parasite as one of the leading causes of premature births, severe complications and birth defects in the United States. Toxoplasma gondii is the cause of toxoplasmosis which is acquired through contact with infected cat feces or by eating undercooked meat.
While traditional blood tests are able to determine whether a person has been infected with the strain, the new test that was developed can detect the presence of the strain through determining antibodies present. The new test was developed by Michael Grigg, Ph.D. from the NIAID’s Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases and his colleagues. The test developed by Grigg was administered to blood samples which were collected between 1981 and 2009; these were samples that were a part of the National Collaborative Chicago-Based Congenital Toxoplasmosis Study. The study of congenitally infected children was authored by Rima McLeod a NIAID grantee from the University of Chicago; the study was published online in Clinical Infectious Diseases.
The study results show that there are at least 15 distinct T. gondii strains that were found all over the world. In France for example, the most predominant strain of T. gondii was a strain called type II. The study also shows what strain was likely to cause premature births and severe complications. When the study began in 1982, there were no known drugs to treat toxoplasmosis in children but at present, there are several drug treatment regimens available that can help save lives of babies born with complications. There were also studies regarding the success of treatments for babies whose mothers have been diagnosed with toxoplasmosis; mothers received treatment prior to giving birth.
It was also noted in the study that strains of T. gondii responsible for congenital birth defects were prevalent among low income families and in rural areas.
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