What is toxoplasmosis?

Toxoplasmosis is an infection caused by the parasite Toxoplasma gondii. Although many people may have toxoplasma infection, very few have symptoms. This is because the immune system usually keeps the parasite from causing illness. But babies who become infected before birth can be born with serious mental or physical problems.

Toxoplasmosis often causes flulike symptoms, swollen lymph glands, or muscle aches and pains that last for a few days to several weeks. Pregnant people can be tested to see if they have an antibody to the illness. Fetal testing may include ultrasound and testing of amniotic fluid or cord blood. Treatment may include antibiotics.

Preventing toxoplasmosis

The CDC advises the below to help prevent toxoplasmosis:

  • Wear gloves when you garden or do anything outdoors that involves handling soil. Cats may pass the parasite in their feces. They often use gardens and sandboxes as litter boxes. Wash your hands well with soap and warm water after outdoor activities. Wash your hands very well before you eat or prepare any food.

  • Have someone who is healthy and not pregnant change your cat's litter box. If this isn't possible, wear gloves and clean the litter box daily. The parasite found in cat feces can only infect you a few days after being passed. Wash your hands well with soap and warm water afterward.

  • Have someone who is healthy and not pregnant handle raw meat for you. If this isn't possible, wear clean latex gloves when you touch raw meat. Wash any cutting boards, sinks, knives, and other utensils that might have touched the raw meat. Wash your hands well with soap and warm water afterward.

  • Cook all meat fully. This means until it's no longer pink in the center or until the juices run clear. Don't sample meat before it is fully cooked.

Online Medical Reviewer: Donna Freeborn PhD CNM FNP
Online Medical Reviewer: Heather M Trevino BSN RNC
Online Medical Reviewer: Tennille Dozier RN BSN RDMS
Date Last Reviewed: 1/1/2024
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