KEY POINTS

  • The 19-year-old Brazilian woman was diagnosed with toxoplasmosis in the fifth month of her pregnancy
  • She had initially been asymptomatic but was "extremely swollen and in great pain" days before she lost her unborn baby
  • Her family has since filed a police report and requested a post-mortem to find out the cause of death

A 19-year-old woman in Brazil's Sao Paulo who was nine months pregnant has lost her unborn child after she caught an infection from her pet cat's feces.

Milena Gloria Cardoso, of Sao Vicente, lost her baby on Sept. 19 due to complications caused by toxoplasmosis, Brazilian media outlet G1 reported. The infection is caused by the parasite Toxoplasma gondii, which is usually found in contaminated cat feces, water or undercooked meat.

Cardoso caught toxoplasmosis from her infected cat's feces when she was five months pregnant, a report by 7News.com.au said.

Some toxoplasmosis patients reportedly experienced flu-like symptoms, such as high temperatures, aching muscles, tiredness, feeling sick, a sore throat and swollen glands for about six weeks. However, those with weakened immune systems or babies born to mothers who had the infection during pregnancy may experience severe symptoms such as difficulty breathing, dizziness or mental confusion, G1 noted.

Cardoso had initially been asymptomatic, but family members described her as being "extremely swollen and in great pain" by the time she was taken to the hospital on Sept. 18.

"She spent the entire night bleeding," said Cardoso’s cousin, Sabrina Segecs.

Cardoso was sent home to wait until the next day, but when she was brought back to the hospital on Sept. 19, doctors discovered her baby had a weak heartbeat. The medical staff chose to wait for normal delivery instead of performing a cesarean section, but her unborn baby died a few hours later.

Cardoso returned to the hospital the next day and underwent a C-section to remove the deceased baby.

Her family has since filed a police report in Sao Vicente and requested the baby's necropsy at the Legal Medical Institute to find out the cause of death.

The family accused local health officials of negligence for allegedly not requesting a repeat exam to monitor the development of the disease after Cardoso was diagnosed.

"They warned her that her pregnancy was at risk, but they didn't retake the exam when she was six months [pregnant]," Cardoso's cousin said. "Since then, we've been in this rush of going to and from the hospital. They said she had to wait for a normal birth, even though she was in a lot of pain."

In a statement, the Department of Health in Sao Vicente said tests indicated that the 19-year-old woman contracted toxoplasmosis before becoming pregnant and insisted that all care protocols were followed.

"The City Hall sympathizes with the family's pain and has already made itself available for further clarification," the statement said.

The dispute between Cardoso’s family and health authorities is ongoing.

healing-4054923_1920 Representation. Milena Gloria Cardoso, 19, lost her unborn baby due to complications from toxoplasmosis. Photo: Pixabay