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Toxoplasmosis is infection with the parasite Toxoplasma gondii. Most people who become infected don't have symptoms. This is because the immune system is usually able to fight the disease. Toxoplasmosis is dangerous to a pregnant woman and her fetus.
Toxoplasmosis can result from:
If you are pregnant when first infected with Toxoplasma gondii, you can give the infection to your baby.
You may also receive it through an organ transplantation or a transfusion, although this is rare.
Most people with toxoplasmosis don't have symptoms. When symptoms are present, they are often flu-like and may include swollen lymph glands or muscle aches and pains that last for a few days to several weeks.
Severe toxoplasmosis results in damage to the eyes or the brain. Infants who became infected before birth may be born with serious mental or physical problems.
A person with a weakened immune system can develop life-threatening toxoplasmosis.
Severe symptoms vary depending on which part of the body is affected. If the infection is in the:
Because there are typically no symptoms, it is hard to know whether you are infected. If you think that you may have toxoplasmosis, talk to your doctor. They may do specific blood tests for toxoplasmosis.
In an otherwise healthy person who is not pregnant, treatment is not needed. Symptoms will usually go away within a few weeks.
For people who are pregnant or have weakened immune systems, medicines are available to treat toxoplasmosis.
Because toxoplasmosis usually has no symptoms or only mild symptoms, most people don't need to worry about getting it. But if you have a weakened immune system or are pregnant, you should take steps to prevent toxoplasmosis.
Cats can spread Toxoplasma gondii in their feces. Don't bring a cat into your house that might have been an outdoor cat or might have been fed raw meat. Avoid handling stray cats and kittens. If you have a cat:
Cats only spread Toxoplasma gondii in their feces for a few weeks after they are first infected with the parasite. They rarely have symptoms when first infected, so most people don't know whether their cat has been exposed to Toxoplasma gondii. Good tests are not available to determine whether your cat is passing Toxoplasma gondii in its feces.
Your veterinarian can answer other questions you may have about your cat and the risk for toxoplasmosis.
Current as of: July 1, 2021
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal MedicineAdam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Current as of: July 1, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
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