Evaluation of an educational handout on knowledge about toxoplasmosis
AbstractAIMS: The study sought to determine the factors associated with prior knowledge about toxoplasmosis, and to assess what participants learned after reading an educational handout. METHODS: Participants were recruited at two sites in California: a public meeting about water quality in Morro Bay; and at the Women Infants and Children’s Nutrition Program office or La Leche League meetings in Yolo County. Demographic differences between sites were compared using Fisher’s exact test, and change in knowledge before and after reading the handout using Mantel-Haenszel methodology. RESULTS: Non-Hispanic white participants were more likely than those of Hispanic ethnicity (62% vs. 20%, respectively) to have prior knowledge about toxoplasmosis. The most common source of information was newspapers (36%). Only 16% had obtained information from medical professionals. After reading the handout, 85% of participants identified Toxoplasma gondii as a parasite and 98% identified cats as the source of oocysts. Ninety-eight percent of participants who read the handout were aware they could acquire infection from cat faeces, 94% from meat, 78% from soil or in utero, and 69% from unwashed vegetables. Fewer (59%) recognized all sources. CONCLUSIONS: Knowledge about toxoplasmosis increased in all areas evaluated, but gaps remained, particularly with regard to environmental sources of Toxoplasma gondii infection and clinical manifestations of disease. In addition to care in handling cat faeces/litter and avoidance of undercooked meat, healthcare providers counseling pregnant women should emphasize the importance of wearing gloves when gardening, hand washing after handling soil or meat, and rinsing fresh vegetables thoroughly before consumption.
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