Prevalence and Factors Associated with Toxoplasma Gondii Immunization among Pregnant Women in Douala – Cameroon
Background: Toxoplasmosis, an infection by Toxoplasma (T.) gondii, often occurs without symptoms in immune competent adults, but can affect the fetus, causing miscarriage or severe complications if the infection takes place during pregnancy. Its prevalence varies widely and depends on dietary habits and hygiene levels within the population. The objective was to determine the seroprevalence and factors associated with T. gondii among pregnant women in three health care units in Douala, Cameroon.
Method: A cross-sectional, descriptive and analytic study was conducted from January 10 to April 30, 2015. Pregnant women were interviewed after informed consent during antenatal care. Data were obtained on socio-demographic characteristics, dietary and hygiene habits, and cohabitation with cats. Serological diagnosis of T. gondii was obtained through the ELISA technique (Enzyme- Linked Immuno-Sorbant Assay) to measure values of IgG and IgM. Data were analyzed using Epi Info 7, Excel 2007 and XLSTAT 7.5.2. Associations between variables of interest and T. gondii immunization were investigated using the Chi–Square analysis, with p values less than 0.05 considered statistically significant.
Results: The average age of the 327 pregnant women who took part in the study was 31 ± 5 years. The seroprevalence of T. gondii was 78.6%. There was no significant association between the seroprevalence and age, cohabitation with cats, eating uncooked food, and source of drinking water (p>0.05). The lower the educational level, the higher the prevalence of T. gondii antibodies (p=0.0003). The mean value of IgG was 183 ± 1126 IU/ml with a minimum of 0.0 IU/ml and maximum of 19714 IU/ml.
Conclusion: There is high seroprevalence of T. gondii among pregnant women in Douala. The educational level is the main associated factor. Health education and awareness of the disease and its transmission to pregnant women could be created during antenatal follow up to reduce the risk of first infection during pregnancy.