In the first quarter of the year, Yucatan has registered 3 cases of toxoplasmosis, an infection caused by contact with cat excrement which, although it occurs infrequently, generates serious health problems. Figures from the Secretaría de Salud indicate that as of March 26th there are two cases in women and one in men. Last year, only one case was reported at the same time.
In Yucatan, in 2021 the highest figure in the last ten years was recorded (with six cases). In 2013, 2018, and 2019, no new infections were reported. The specialist from the Center for Research and Advanced Studies (Cinvestav), Ricardo Mondragón Flores, explained that toxoplasmosis is a parasitosis produced by Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite capable of invading any type of cell in warm-blooded animals.
"Toxoplasma is an intracellular parasite that affects both people and animals by ingesting poorly washed vegetables, contaminated water, or undercooked or raw meat," he warned. According to Mondragón Flores, in pregnant women, this parasite can produce births of babies with blindness or mental retardation, in addition to causing miscarriage when the infection occurs in the first trimester of pregnancy.
"Babies can also be born healthy, and it is in adolescence when they manifest schizophrenia, aggressive attitudes, or suicidal tendencies. This pathogen has been found in cats as its main transmission vector since the feline can become infected by eating birds and rodents with the parasite.
He explained that inside the cat's intestine a resistant spherical structure is formed, known as oocyst, which is not infectious, but when it is eliminated through feces in water sources or vegetable areas, it allows its maturation and infection capacity when ingested, affecting people or animals.
"Once the oocyst is ingested, the parasite comes out and invades the cells of the intestine where it transforms into a highly virulent form known as tachyzoite, which crosses the intestinal cells until it reaches the bloodstream and is distributed throughout the body.
In people with adequate nutrition and an efficient immune system, the parasite does not produce symptoms and lodges in the tissues in the form of a cyst and remains there for the rest of their lives, until there is some condition that induces its resurgence, such as immunosuppression or pregnancy since the immune system can only control the infection, but not eliminate it," he said.
The Cinvestav specialist said that the behavior at the cellular level of the Toxoplasma gondii parasite has been studied because this pathogen can live inside the organism's cells for years without affecting the organism, but for some reason it becomes active, leaves the cyst in which it is lodged and spreads to all organs including the brain, where it causes encephalitis, and to the eye, causing blindness.