Toxoplasmosis is an infection due to the parasite Toxoplasma gondii.
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
Most primary infections produce no symptoms. The time between exposure to the parasite 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.
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.
Acute infection in children may cause swelling of the retina in the eye.
In adults with a healthy immune system, toxoplasmosis has a good outcome.
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.
Tips for preventing this condition:
Liesenfeld O. Toxoplasmosis. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 370.
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