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2023 Author: Alfred Shackley | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-05-21 13:14
Toxoplasmas are intracellular parasites that the human immune system can easily deal with. But with weakened immunity, all sorts of problems arise, and the activation of these harmful microorganisms can cause toxoplasmosis.
This is a very serious disease that is very dangerous. This disease is most common in countries with hot climates. However, in our latitudes, 15% of people also suffer from toxoplasmosis. The diagnosis of this disease is very difficult, and its main method is a special blood test.
What is toxoplasmosis?
Toxoplasmosis is an infectious disease. It passes with practically no specific signs or with vague symptoms, so it can only be diagnosed with the help of laboratory research.
As practice shows, patients may experience the following symptoms:
- Slight malaise;
- Increased fatigue even from the smallest loads;
- Increase in body temperature up to 38 degrees;
- Joint and muscle aches;
- Headache and migraine;
- Decreased vision;
- Dysfunction of the cardiovascular system;
- Swollen lymph nodes.
These signs are difficult to diagnose the disease because they are similar to the symptoms of other human diseases. Therefore, for an accurate diagnosis, an antibody test is required.
There are several ways to get infected with toxoplasmosis:
- Eating raw meat or fish;
- Eating unwashed foods;
- Contact with pets, especially cats;
- With blood transfusions and organ transplants;
- The baby can become infected through the umbilical cord from a sick mother (observed in 72% of cases).
When is it necessary to test for toxoplasmosis?
Toxoplasmas begin to act actively when their spores enter the human body. They develop in the blood, but then they actively multiply in the tissues of organs and muscles, even reaching the brain. Their action is aimed at destroying tissue cells from the inside. Therefore, early detection of this disease will help avoid many serious health problems, including such serious diseases as encephalitis and meningocephalitis.
Pregnant women are at risk because of the low level of immunity during such a period. Therefore, doctors recommend that they must be tested for toxoplasmosis. Recently, it has been promoted to do such tests at the stage of pregnancy planning.
The risk of disease in the first trimester is 10%, in the second - 40%, and in the third - 80%. An infection of this kind negatively affects the placenta, leads to its rapid aging, and provokes the threat of miscarriage.
Modern medicine makes it possible to simplify the test system for pregnant women and to detect toxoplasmosis antibodies in combination with other infections, such as rubella and cytomegalovirus. To do this, you need to take a blood test for the TORCH-complex.
In addition, an annual test for toxoplasmosis is the norm for HIV-infected people. With such a disease, the human immune system is at a low level and therefore the development of a new infection in the body can lead to irreversible consequences.
Tests for toxoplasmosis
Laboratory research is the only and most accurate method for diagnosing this disease.
He helps clarify the following facts:
- The presence of toxoplasma in the human body;
- How long does the disease develop;
- The presence of antibodies to this infection.
In modern medicine, there are two types of tests for toxoplasmosis:
- PCR-diagnostics (polymer chain reaction, which examines the DNA of Toxoplasma);
- ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay to detect the presence of antibodies).
There is no need to prepare specifically for such research. For better efficiency, it is worth taking the test on an empty stomach; before that, you should not consume alcohol and fatty foods for a couple of days.
This analysis is very expensive and requires special equipment. Therefore, the availability of such a survey is limited. DNA can be examined on the basis of a smear. Also, the test material can be saliva, urine, sputum, amniotic fluid and blood. The effectiveness of this diagnostic method is 98-100%. PCR diagnostics can detect even a small amount of Toxoplasma DNA in human blood. Very often it is used as an additional method after ELISA diagnostics, when the results are controversial.
PCR diagnostics does not require special decoding, it gives only two results - positive (confirmation of the presence of infection) and negative (no disease).
Study of toxoplasmosis by ELISA
This type of diagnosis is the most common; it is based on an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay for the presence of immunoglobulins.
These substances appear in human blood along with the appearance of parasites. In other words, the appearance of immunoglobulins is a natural response to a pathogen to combat it.
In toxoplasmosis, two types of antibodies are released: IgM and LgG.
IgM is an early immunoglobulin that occurs when parasites first appear in the body.
IgG - late immunoglobulin, is produced one month after infection. It remains in the blood of a person for life, thus protecting against infection.
Compared with the PCR method, the result of an enzyme immunoassay requires a special decoding. Doctors do not recommend doing this on your own, it is better to use specialized help.
In general, it is not difficult to decipher the result, there are four options:
- IgM is negative and IgG is negative (no type of immunoglobulin was found in a person's blood, which means that a person has never had this infection, and antibodies against it are not produced). In principle, such a result is dangerous only for pregnant women, because they automatically fall into the risk group. To protect herself and the fetus, the woman is encouraged to repeat the analysis every three months.
- IgM - negative and IgG - positive (the presence of late immunoglobulin means that the person has already been ill and the antibodies are ready for new attacks). With this result, the avidity is determined for pregnant women. This indicator will show the state of the antibodies.
- 3) IgM - positive and IgG - negative. This means that a person may be currently suffering from an acute form of toxoplasmosis. To confirm the result, the analysis is repeated after a while, in addition, a number of additional studies are prescribed. If after a couple of weeks the result remains the same, this indicates an erroneous result of the first procedure. For pregnant women, this variant of the results is dangerous because there is a danger of infection of the unborn child. A pregnant woman is prescribed urgent treatment.
- IgM is positive and IgG is positive. The presence of active antibodies in the blood indicates the activation of foreign microorganisms. Such a result may also mean that the person has recently been ill, his positive IgM will remain for several more months.
What is Avidity?
Antibody avidity is another important indicator in the diagnosis of toxoplasmosis. This concept characterizes the level of influence of immunoglobulins on foreign microorganisms and the ability to destroy them. The higher the avidity, the higher the level of immunity.
In total, there are three levels of avidity:
- Avidity less than 40 - the appearance of a primary infection;
- From 40 to 59 - such indicators characterize the transition period in the disease, indicating the possibility of the development of the disease.
- More than 60 - a high level of immunity, a sufficient amount of antibodies in the body to fight Toxoplasma.
Timely submission of the analysis will help you identify the parasite and quickly get rid of it. Do not under any circumstances self-diagnose and self-medicate! This can cause irreparable harm to the health of your body!