Toxoplasmosis is an infection due to the parasite Toxoplasma gondii.
This article discusses toxoplasmosis in adults or adolescents. For information on toxoplasmosis in babies, see: Congenital toxoplasmosis
Toxoplasmosis is found in humans worldwide, and in many species of animals and birds. Cats are the definitive host of the parasite.
Human infection may result from:
Toxoplasmosis also affects people who have weakened immune systems.
The infection may also be passed from an infected mother to her baby through the placenta. See: Congenital toxoplasmosis
There may be no symptoms. Symptoms usually occur about 1 to 2 weeks after you come in contact with the parasite. The disease can affect the brain, lung, heart, eyes, or liver.
Symptoms in persons with otherwise healthy immune systems:
Symptoms in people with a weakened immune system:
For information on babies born with the condition, see: congenital toxoplasmosis
The doctor or nurse will perform a physical exam. Tests that may be done include:
Those without symptoms typically do not need treatment.
Medications to treat the infection include an antimalarial drug and antibiotics. AIDS patients should continue treatment for as long as their immune system is weak to prevent the disease from reactivating.
For information regarding treatment of babies and pregnant women, see congenital toxoplasmosis.
With treatment, people with a healthy immune system usually recover well.
The disease may return.
In people with a weakened immune system, the infection may spread throughout the body. This can be deadly.
Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you develop symptoms of toxoplasmosis. Immediate medical care is needed if symptoms occur in:
Immediate medical treatment is also needed if the following symptoms occur:
Tips for preventing this condition:
Pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems should take the following precautions:
Pregnant women and those with HIV should be screened for toxoplasmosis. A blood test can be done.
Montoya JG. Toxoplasmosis. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds.Cecil Medicine. 24th ed.Philadelphia,PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 357.
Updated by: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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