Toxoplasmosis

Toxoplasmosis

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 flu-like
symptoms, swollen lymph glands, or muscle aches and pains that last for a few days to
several weeks. Mothers 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 is not 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 is not 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 is no longer pink in the center or until the juices run clear. Do
    not sample meat before it is fully cooked.