Australian meat is commonly contaminated with Toxoplasma, a parasite that causes inflammation of the nerve layer of the eye.
A Flinders University study, published in the Australian New Zealand Journal of Public Health, has revealed the parasite was found in more than a third of supermarket lamb mince tested.
Anyone may develop retinal inflammation after an infection with Toxoplasma, but it is more common and more severe in babies, older adults and people with diseases that affect the immune system.
Infections in pregnant women most commonly end in stillbirth or miscarriage.
Babies who survive are likely to be born with serious problems, such as seizures, enlarged liver and severe eye infections.
If left untreated, Toxoplasma infections can lead to blindness.
Researchers tested lamb mince meat bought from the supermarket three times a week for six months.
DNA detection picked up Toxoplasma in more than one third of purchases.
'No cure' for parasite
Researchers say studies from other parts of the world have indicated that meat is commonly contaminated with Toxoplasma.
But the issue has received little attention in Australia.
Toxoplasma gets into meat when livestock are grazing in pastures that cats have frequented.
There are no vaccines that protect against Toxoplasma and antibiotic drugs cannot get rid of the parasite.
So once a person catches it they carry it for life.
Flinders University Professor Justine Smith says Toxoplasma in meat can be killed easily: by cooking the meat to an internal temperature of 66C (or medium) or by freezing it prior to cooking.
The Flinders research team now plans to test other meats for Toxoplasma, especially other red meats that are often eaten rare, such as kangaroo and beef.
This article originally appeared on 7NEWS