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Toxoplasmosis in Brazil (Santa Maria, Rio Grande do Sul)

08 May 2018

The Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul  has reported an outbreak of toxoplasmosis in the city of Santa Maria. Between 16 April and 8 May 2018, 792 cases  have been notified. Of 617 suspect cases, 218 were laboratory-confirmed,  70  were discarded and  319 remain under investigation.

Toxoplasmosis is caused by infection with the parasite Toxoplasma gondii. The parasite is common in cats, raw meat and sometimes drinking water and it is from these sources many infections occur. In many cases, this produces a mild flu-like illness that lasts for weeks or months. However, some infections have more sever outcomes e.g. eye  and /or brain damage, particularly if a person has been infected since birth. Toxoplasmosis during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth or other disease in the newborn child.

Advice for Travellers

  • Avoid drinking untreated drinking water.
  • Meat should be cooked thoroughly, all the way through.
  • Freeze meat for several days at sub-zero (0° F) temperatures before cooking to greatly reduce chance of infection.
  • All fruit and vegetables (including salad) should be peeled and washed thoroughly before eating.
  • Kitchen equipment and surfaces should be washed thoroughly with hot soapy water before use, especially after preparing raw meat, poultry, seafood, fruit or vegetables.
  • Wear gloves when gardening and during any contact with soil or sand
  • Wash hands with soap and warm water after gardening or contact with soil or sand.
  • Teach children the importance of washing hands to prevent infection.
  • Do not handle cats or change a cat’s litter box, especially if you are pregnant. F this is unavoidable, wear gloves and wash hands thoroughly afterwards.

For further advice see Food and Water Precautions