Health

Raw meat parasite linked to common eye disease

Toxoplasma gondiia parasite closely linked to cats is behind retinal scars in one in 150 Australians, according to a new analysis from Flinders University.

Many animals around the world become infected by the parasite, generally contracting the disease in environments contaminated by infected cats or by consuming other infected animals. For humans, while pet feces may be a carrier, the most common route of infection is consumption of uncooked or raw meat derived from infected livestock.

“Given Australia’s substantial population of feral cats that are known to be infected, in addition to high levels of agriculture and foods rich in meat, it is imperative that we understand the prevalence of the disease across the country,” said senior author of study Professor Justine Smith, Strategic Professor in Eye & Vision Health at Flinders University.

Smith and her team analyzed retinal photographs of more than 5,000 people living in the Busselton area of ​​Western Australia, previously collected to evaluate the prevalence of glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration for a long-term healthy aging study.

Three specialized ophthalmologists, including Professor Smith, evaluated the scans for toxoplasmic retinochoroiditis, with positive cases confirmed with antibody blood tests.

Among the 5,000 people, we found eight participants with blood test-confirmed toxoplasmic retinal lesions. Adding that about three-quarters of the retinal lesions would be in a position not visible in these particular photos, we could estimate the prevalence of ocular toxoplasmosis at 1 in 149 individuals, “he said.

“Although there is no cure or vaccine, the symptoms of toxoplasmosis vary depending on the age, health and genetics of the infected individual. Many people are asymptomatic, but the most common disease we see in the clinic is retinal inflammation and scarring known as ocular toxoplasmosis.

“Studies around the world show that 30% to 50% of the world’s population is infected with Toxoplasma, but even though we knew it, what we did not know was how often the related eye disease was,” Smith said.

The work claims to represent the first attempt to quantify the rate of ocular toxoplasmosis in Australia, with the findings indicating that the condition can be considered common. With earlier research that the infection could lead to reduced vision in more than 50% of the eyes and even blindness, the authors say it is important for people to understand the risk factors of toxoplasmosis and ways to prevent it.

“While people are often familiar with pregnant women who need to avoid cat litter, we also need to let everyone know that meat preparation is a major risk factor,” Smith said.

Research by Smith in 2019 marked a high prevalence of Toxoplasma in Australian lamb sold in supermarkets.

“Add to that the fact that it is now becoming more common to prepare meat in and out of restaurants to intentionally bake less or raw, then increases the chance that people will be infected with Toxoplasma.

“We need people to know that this disease exists so that they can make informed decisions about how to prepare and eat it. The parasite can be easily killed by cooking the meat to an internal temperature of 66ºC (or medium). or by freezing it before cooking.

The study follows a series of papers recently published by Smith and her team on the condition, including one that uses new technology retinal imaging to see the changes that occur in ocular tissue toxoplasmosis, and another which marks the best clinical practice. for controlling the disease.

Image Caption: Eye scan shows ocular toxoplasmosis. Image Credit: Associate Professor João M Furtado.

Raw meat parasite linked to common eye disease

Source link Raw meat parasite linked to common eye disease

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