Toxoplasmosis is the most widespread zoonosis and an important human disease particularly in children where it could cause visual and neurological impairment and mental retardation. This study was conducted to determine the prevalence of toxoplasmosis, especially congenital toxoplasmosis in patients at two health institutions in Trinidad. A total of 504 cord blood samples of newborn babies were collected: 174 from a women’s hospital and 330 from a general hospital. In order to elicit maternal and prenatal risk factors for toxoplasmosis, mothers of the newborns completed a questionnaire. Enzyme-immuno assay (EIA) was used to detect IgG and IgM to Toxoplasma gondii. Overall, of 504 serum samples tested, 220 (43.7%) were seropositive for IgG while the prevalence of congenital toxoplasmosis as reflected by IgM was 0.4%. The prevalence of IgG and IgM by health institutions was not significantly different (p > 0.05; chi-square). The prevalence of toxoplasmosis using IgG was highest in neonates of mothers who were of East Indian descent (54.1%), had four children (52.9%), kept cats in households (47.7%), practised outdoor gardening (50.8%), consumed raw meat (66.7%), had experienced miscarriage(s) (47.3%), stillbirths (66.7%), or who had eye problem(s) (52.9%) and mental retardation (50.0%). The study prevalence of congenital toxoplasmosis revealed a high seroprevalence of toxoplasmosis in neonates but there was 0.4% serological evidence of congenital disease.
It indicates a need for sensitization of the population and healthcare workers and for follow-up of infected children for clinical evidence of the disease. This would be necessary to fully appreciate the impact of toxoplasmosis in Trinidad and Tobago. The differences from comparison groups were however not statistically significant (p > 0.05; chi-square).