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Test links strains of common parasite to severe illness in US newborns
Date:4/12/2012

n types have been found throughout the world. In France, where research has been done to establish which strains are most common, a strain called type II predominates. Type II parasites can be distinguished from all other strains, which are collectively termed not exclusively type II strains (or NE-II).

Using the new test, the researchers found evidence of either type II or NE-II infections in 183 of the mother-child pairs in the national congenital toxoplasmosis study. Statistical analysis revealed that NE-II parasites were more likely to be associated with premature birth, and infants infected with these strains were more likely to have severe manifestations of disease than infants infected by type II parasites. For example, severe eye damage was seen in 67 percent of NE-II cases (59 out of 88), while such eye damage was present in only 39 percent of type II cases (18 out of 46). The researchers noted, however, that the association is not absolute, and that mild, moderate or severe disease can result regardless of the infecting strain.

We knew that, in mice, certain parasite strains are clearly associated with severe disease, said Dr. Grigg. But we didnt know if the same association between strain type and disease severity would hold true for people. Until now, we had not systematically determined whether infected people in the United States had European-type strains or other types, and we also hadnt determined whether strains found here would have more severe disease symptoms associated with them.

When she helped start the congenital toxoplasmosis study in 1981, optimal drug treatment regimens were unknown, said Dr. McLeod. Now, thanks in part to controlled clinical trials run under the auspices of the study, the condition can be successfully treated and many babies who are diagnosed before or shortly after birth and who are treated suffer few or no ill effects. When the researchers looked at the clinical histories o
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Contact: Anne A. Oplinger
aoplinger@niaid.nih.gov
301-402-1663
NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Source:Eurekalert  

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