What is it?

Toxoplasmosis is a disease that results from infection with the Toxoplasma gondii parasite, one of the world's most common parasites. Infection usually occurs by eating undercooked contaminated meat, exposure from infected cat feces, or mother-to-child transmission during pregnancy. Toxoplasmosis may cause flu-like symptoms in some people, but most people affected never develop signs and symptoms.

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Additional names

This group contains additional names:
- Toxoplasma

Signs & symptoms

Most people who have been infected with the parasite that causes toxoplasmosis show no signs or symptoms. But people who do develop symptoms may experience:
- a fever
- swollen lymph nodes, especially in the neck
- a headache
- muscle aches and pains
- sore throat
These symptoms can last for a month or more and usually resolve on their own.

In people who have weakened immune systems, Toxoplasmosis is especially serious. They have high risk to develop:
- brain inflammation, causing headaches, seizures, confusion and coma.
- a lung infection, causing cough, fever, and shortness of breath
- an eye infection, causing blurry vision and eye pain

When a fetus is infected, the symptoms may be mild or quite serious. Toxoplasmosis in an unborn baby can be life-threatening for the baby soon after birth. Most newborns with congenital toxoplasmosis may appear normal at birth but can develop signs and symptoms as they age. It’s particularly important to check for involvement in their brain and eyes.


Diagnosis usually includes a blood test to check for antibodies to this parasite. An antibody is a type of protein that the immune system produces when it’s threatened by harmful substances. Antibodies detect foreign substances by their surface markers, called antigens. Once an antibody has developed against a particular antigen, it will remain in the bloodstream to protect against future infections with that particular foreign substance.

If you’ve ever been exposed to T. gondii, antibodies will be present in your blood. This means you will test positive for the antibodies. If your tests come back positive, then you’ve been infected with this disease at some point in your life. A positive result doesn’t necessarily mean that you currently have an active infection, there is a need to do further testing to help figure out exactly when you were infected.

If you’re pregnant and have an active infection, your doctor may test your amniotic fluid and the fetus’ blood. An ultrasound can also help determine whether the fetus has been infected.


It may be recommended not treating toxoplasmosis if it isn’t causing any symptoms. Most healthy people who develop an infection don’t have any symptoms or develop mild symptoms that are self-limited.
If the disease is severe, persistent, involves the eyes, or involves the internal organs, you will typically be prescribed pyrimethamine (Daraprim) and sulfadiazine. Pyrimethamine is also used to treat malaria. Sulfadiazine is an antibiotic.

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

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