Prevalence and risk factors of Toxoplasma infection – an update in Malaysian pregnant women
Chemoh, W., Farhana, M. N. N., Azmi, M. A. N., Lay, K. S., Sawangjaroen, N., Tan, T. C., Chandramathi, S. R., Nissapatorn, V.
Tropical Biomedicine 2019, 36: 694 - 702
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Toxoplasma gondii is a protozoan parasite that is capable of causing a zoonotic disease, known as toxoplasmosis. Vertical transmission of T. gondii from the mother to the fetus, during pregnancy may cause severe complications to the developing fetus. This current study aimed to determine the seroprevalence and investigate the associated risk factors of Toxoplasma infection in pregnant women (n=219) visiting the antenatal clinic at UMMC. While the elevated level of anti-Toxoplasma IgG and IgM antibodies indicates the presence of infection, it fails to differentiate between a past and a recent infection. Thus, the study also demonstrates the usefulness of IgG avidity in validating the timing of infection. The serum samples were tested for the presence of anti-Toxoplasma IgG and IgM antibodies by ELISA test, and the seropositive samples for both anti-Toxoplasma IgG and IgM antibodies were further evaluated by IgG avidity. The results showed that the overall prevalence of T. gondii seropositivity was 34.7%. Of these, 30.6% (67/219) were positive for anti-Toxoplasma IgG antibody only, 2.3% (5/219) were positive for anti-Toxoplasma IgM only, and the remaining 1.8% (4/219) was positive for both anti-Toxoplasma IgG and IgM antibodies. All of the pregnant women who were positive for both anti-Toxoplasma IgG and IgM antibody were found to have past infection when evaluated by IgG avidity. In this study, Malay ethnicity and the number of existing previous children were significantly associated with T. gondii seropositivity (p<0.05). Based on these findings, information and education on the transmission and prevention of congenital toxoplasmosis are very crucial as a public health effort towards a healthier society.