Toxoplasmosis is an infection caused by a tiny parasite. Most people do not have problems from it. Others may only have mild problems. People who have a weakened immune system or those who are pregnant may have more severe problems.
The infection is caused by a tiny parasite called a protozoan. It is common in cats, but people and other animals can also get it.
The infection is passed from animals to humans. People can get it by:
Touching infected cat feces or something that has touched cat feces, such as soil or insects
Eating undercooked, infected meat, or by touching one's mouth after touching the meat
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. You may be asked about any contact with cats or contaminated water or food.
Blood tests will be done to look for antibodies linked to the infection. Other lab tests may also be done to look for signs of the parasite.
People who are healthy and not pregnant do not need treatment for mild problems. They will get better in a few weeks or months.
People with weakened immune systems are treated with anti-parasitic medicine for several months.
People who are less than five months pregnant are treated with antibiotics. This can lower the risk of infection in the fetus.
People who are more than five months pregnant are treated with these medicines:
The risk of this problem may be lowered by:
Drinking and using safe water
Washing fruits and veggies
Washing hands after touching raw meat, a cat, or exposure to soil
Cooking meat and seafood well
Not eating unpasteurized goat's milk
Wearing gloves when gardening or touching soil
Cat owners can lower their risk by feeding their cats canned or dried store-bought food or well-cooked table food. The cat's litter box should also be changed every two days by someone who is healthy and not pregnant.
Parasites—toxoplasmosis (toxoplasma infection). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/toxoplasmosis. Accessed March 3, 2021.
Saadatnia G, Golkar M. A review on human toxoplasmosis. Scand J Infect Dis. 2012 Nov;44(11):805-814.
Toxoplasmosis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/toxoplasmosis. Accessed March 3, 2021.
Toxoplasmosis. Kids Health—Nemours Foundation website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/parent/infections/parasitic/toxoplasmosis.html. Accessed March 3, 2021.
Last reviewed December 2020 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Kari Kassir, MD
Last Updated: 3/3/2021
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