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Definition Return to top
Toxoplasmosis is an infection due to the parasite Toxoplasma gondii.
Causes Return to top
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
Symptoms Return to top
Most primary infections produce no symptoms. The time between exposure to the infection and symptom development is 1 - 2 weeks. The disease can affect the brain, lung, heart, eyes, or liver.
Symptoms in persons with otherwise healthy immune systems:
Symptoms in immunosuppressed persons:
For symptoms in babies born with the condition, see congenital toxoplasmosis.
Exams and Tests Return to top
Tests to determine infection or to find cysts:
Treatment Return to top
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.
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
Acute infection in children may cause swelling of the retina in the eye.
Toxoplasmosis in adults has a good outcome in people with a healthy immune system.
Possible Complications Return to top
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you develop symptoms of toxoplasmosis. This disorder requires urgent or emergency care if it occurs in an immunosuppressed person or in a baby, or if confusion, seizures, or other severe symptoms develop.
Prevention Return to top
Tips for preventing this condition:
References Return to top
Cohen J, Powderly WG. Infectious Diseases. 2nd ed. New York, NY: Elsevier; 2004.
Mandell GL, Bennett JE, Dolin R. Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 6th ed. London: Churchill Livingstone; 2005.Update Date: 11/1/2007 Updated by: Kenneth M. Wener, M.D., Department of Infectious Diseases, Lahey Clinic, Burlington, MA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.