Researchers at Flinders University in Australia point out that a parasite present in raw meat may be responsible for the growth of cases of eye diseases. Named as Toxoplasma gondii, the parasite was discovered over 100 years ago.
According to the study, the increase in cases of this disease is related to the consumption of raw or undercooked meat from infected cattle. Scientists also point out that the parasite may be present in cats.
“Studies around the world show that 30% to 50% of the global population is infected with toxoplasma, but while we knew this, what we didn’t know was how common the related eye disease was,” said study author Justine Smith. .
“While there is no cure or vaccine, symptoms of toxoplasmosis vary depending on the age, health and genetics of the infected individual,” she said. The main symptoms are muscle pain, fever and headache, which can last for weeks.
The researcher says that the retina, part of the eye that generates vision, may be more vulnerable to infection by the parasite. “Many people are asymptomatic, but the most common disease we see in the clinic is retinal inflammation and scarring known as ocular toxoplasmosis.”
The study evaluated the retinas of more than 5,000 people and found that one in 149 Australians is affected by the disease. “Given Australia’s substantial population of feral cats that are known to be infected, along with high levels of agriculture and meat-rich diets, it is imperative that we understand the prevalence of the disease across the country,” Smith said.
“We need people to be aware that this disease exists so they can make informed decisions about how to prepare and eat their meat,” the study points out. “The parasite can be killed easily by cooking the meat to an internal temperature of 66 degrees Celsius or by freezing it before cooking.”
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