THURSDAY, May 19 (HealthDay News) -- A new test to detect whether a toxoplasmosis infection has been acquired within the past four months has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The Vidas Toxo IgG Avidity Assay -- approved for people with a toxoplasmosis infection confirmed by other methods -- can be used to validate whether infection by the Toxoplasma gondii parasite is less than four months old. Human antibodies triggered by the parasite behave differently after four months than they do initially.

Toxoplasmosis, sometimes called "cat scratch disease" can be passed from mother to unborn child. The infection can cause miscarriage, stillbirth or an abnormally sized fetal head. In the child's later life, it can lead to vision loss, mental impairment or seizures, the FDA said in a news release.

While exposure to cats and used cat litter are primary methods of transmission, toxoplasmosis also can be transmitted by other animals and birds. And the parasite can be acquired by eating raw or undercooked meat. Typical warning signs among people include swollen lymph nodes and flu-like symptoms, the FDA said.

The test is produced by bioMerieux Inc., based in Hazelwood, Mo.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about toxoplasmosis.