Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Congenital toxoplasmosis: Priorities for further health promotion action

Public Health. 2007 Oct 25; [Epub ahead of print]

Congenital toxoplasmosis: Priorities for further health promotion action

Elsheikha HM

Division of Veterinary Medicine, The School of Veterinary Medicine and Science, The University of Nottingham, College Road, Sutton Bonington Campus, Leicestershire LE12 5RD, UK.

Toxoplasmosis is a disease of considerable public health impact. As the transmission, occurrence and phenotype of this disease are influenced in a complex way by host genetics, immunity, behaviour and by the agent characteristics, prevention will not be simple. This article aimed to review studies defining seroprevalence of and characteristic sociodemographic, biological and lifestyle risk factors for Toxoplasma gondii infection in pregnant women, to evaluate screening and educational programmes, and to assemble recommendations for combating toxoplasmosis in populations at risk. Electronic databases were searched, using a specific search strategy, from 1975 to 2007. There is a high prevalence of T. gondii antibodies in pregnant women worldwide, with some geographic discrepancies attributed to climatic conditions, local food customs, hygiene, lifestyle and cultural differences. The main risk factors for toxoplasmosis in pregnant women are unsanitary feeding habits, poor immune system, contact with cats, contact with soil, pregnancy, number of births, older age, race, travelling outside the country, drinking beverages prepared with unboiled water, consumption of municipal or uncontrolled (well/spring) water and T. gondii strain virulence. Knowledge of these risk factors helps to identify priorities for further epidemiological work and defines effective preventive measures along five main themes of action: information and health education; screening of pregnant women and infants; limiting harm from risk behaviour; treatment of cases found to be at risk; and vaccination.

PMID: 17964621 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

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