F E AT U R E Dr Dominik Surek graduated from the University of veterinary medicine, Zagreb, Croatia in 1997. He continued with his PhD in Veterinary Reproduction in Warsaw, Poland while practicing in a small animals veterinary clinic. He moved to the UAE in 2001 where he spent seven years working with domestic and exotic animals in a local veterinary clinic. In 2008, Dr Dominik founded VETCARE Veterinary Medical Centre in Dubai where he continues to treat the furry little pet friends. What is Toxoplasmosis and how is it caused? Toxoplasmosis is a parasitic disease caused by the parasite Toxoplasma gondii. What are the risks of Toxoplasmosis for pregnant women? The main risk of pregnant women being infected with Toxoplasma gondii is the fact that he parasite can infect the newborn baby trough the placenta. How severe are the effects of the parasitic disease for mother and baby? The consequences for the baby can range from mild to severe, and the infection may result in miscarriage, stillbirth, or death shortly after birth. The mother with healthy, not compromised immune system may 24 experience mild, flu like illness or no illness. What precautions and measures should pregnant women take? Pregnant women my get infected by eating raw, salt cured or smoked meat especially lamb and venison or by drinking or eating unpasteurized milk or milk products made by unpasteurized milk. So the precautions include necessity of cooking the meat well before consumption, freezing the meat when stored, avoiding raw, salt cured or smoked meat products, avoiding consumption of unpasteurized milk or products made from unpasteurized milk, like some cheese and yogurt, avoiding consumption raw eggs. Also its best to avoid handling cats stools and litter trays. How is it treated in pregnant women? The disease is treated with antibiotic to minimize the spread of the parasite to the unborn baby. What is your advice to our readers regarding Toxoplasmosis? The studies and statistics are showing that only about 15 percent of women of childbearing age are immune to toxoplasmosis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Fortunately, the number of women who contract the infection during pregnancy is still relatively small, and not all of them transmit it to their babies. Knowing the fact that cats are hosts of the Toxoplasma gondii where it multiplies in the intestines our recommendation as veterinarians is that pregnant women should avoid cleaning the animals litter tray or if doing so should wear disposable gloves to avoid any contact with the cat’s feces.