What is Toxoplasmosis? A single-celled parasite called Toxoplasma gondii causes a disease referred to as toxoplasmosis. While the parasite is found throughout the world, more than 60 million individuals in the United States may be infected with the Toxoplasma parasite.
Of those who are infected, very few have symptoms since a healthy individual’s immune system typically keeps the parasite from causing illness. Nevertheless, pregnant women and people who have compromised immune systems should beware; for them, a Toxoplasma infection could cause serious illness.
How do Individuals Get Toxoplasmosis?
A Toxoplasma infection happens by:
- Eating undercooked, polluted meat ( lamb and venison).
- Unintentional intake of undercooked, contaminated meat after managing it and not washing hands thoroughly (Toxoplasma can not be absorbed through undamaged skin).
- Eating food that was infected by knives, utensils, cutting boards and other foods that have had contact with raw, polluted meat.
- Consuming water contaminated with Toxoplasma gondii.
- Mistakenly swallowing the parasite through contact with cat feces which contain Toxoplasma. This might occur by
1. cleaning a cat’s litter box when the cat has actually dropped Toxoplasma in its feces.
2. touching or ingesting anything that has entered contact with feline feces that contain Toxoplasma.
3. accidentally ingesting polluted soil (e.g., not washing hands after gardening or eating unwashed fruits or veggies from a garden).
- Mother-to-child (hereditary) transmission.
- Getting an infected organ transplant or infected blood via transfusion, though this is uncommon.
What Are the Causes of Toxoplasmosis?
T. gondii (Toxoplasma) is the parasite that causes toxoplasmosis. You can capture it from polluted meat that’s raw or not thoroughly prepared. You can likewise get toxoplasmosis by drinking infected water. In uncommon cases, toxoplasmosis may be sent through a blood transfusion or a hair transplanted organ.
The parasite can likewise exist in feces. This suggests it can be found on some unwashed fruit and vegetables that has actually been polluted with manure. Wash your produce completely to prevent toxoplasmosis.
In the United States, the parasite is found in cat feces. Although T. gondii is found in nearly all warm-blooded animals, felines are the just recognized hosts. This suggests that the parasite’s eggs just reproduce sexually in felines. The eggs exit the feline’s body through excretion. Cats don’t usually show symptoms of toxoplasmosis although they’re hosts.
People become infected with toxoplasmosis only if they ingest the parasite. This might take place when being exposed to contaminated cat feces. This is more than likely when clearing out a litter box without washing your hands later.
Pregnant women have an increased risk of passing toxoplasmosis to their unborn child in this manner. For this factor, you should ask someone else to care for the cat litter box during your pregnancy. If you definitely need to clean out the box yourself, secure yourself with gloves and change the cat litter box daily. The parasite isn’t infectious till one to 5 days after it’s shed.
It’s extremely rare for humans to obtain toxoplasmosis from cats. Generally speaking, house felines that aren’t permitted outside do not bring T. gondii. Wild cats or felines that live outdoors and hunt are more likely to be hosts of T. gondii.
In the United States, the most common method to obtain infected with the toxoplasmosis parasite is by eating raw meat or unwashed fruits and vegetables.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Toxoplasmosis?
Symptoms of the infection differ:
- The majority of people who become infected with Toxoplasma gondii are not familiar with it.
- Some individuals who have toxoplasmosis might feel as if they have the “flu” with swollen lymph glands or muscle aches and pains that last for a month or more.
- Severe toxoplasmosis, triggering damage to the brain, eyes, or other organs, can establish from an intense Toxoplasma infection or one that had actually taken place previously in life and is now reactivated. Severe cases are most likely in people who have weak body immune systems, though sometimes, even individuals with healthy body immune systems may experience eye damage from toxoplasmosis.
- Symptoms and signs of ocular toxoplasmosis can include lowered vision, blurred vision, pain (often with brilliant light), redness of the eye, and in some cases tearing. Ophthalmologists often recommend medicine to treat active disease. Whether medication is suggested depends upon the size of the eye lesion, the location, and the qualities of the lesion (intense active, versus chronic not advancing). An ophthalmologist will offer the best take care of ocular toxoplasmosis.
- A lot of infants who are infected while still in the womb have no symptoms at birth, but they may establish symptoms later in life. A small portion of infected newborns have serious eye or mental retardation at birth.
Who is at Risk for Developing Severe Toxoplasmosis?
Individuals who are more than likely to establish severe toxoplasmosis include:
- Infants born to mothers who are newly infected with Toxoplasma gondii during or right before pregnancy.
- Individuals with badly weakened body immune systems, such as people with AIDS, those taking specific types of chemotherapy, and those who have just recently received an organ transplant.
How Is Toxoplasmosis Diagnosed?
Your doctor will typically perform a blood test to look for antibodies to this parasite. An antibody is a type of protein that your body immune system produces when it’s threatened by hazardous substances. Antibodies find foreign substances by their surface area markers, called antigens. Antigens include:
As soon as an antibody has actually established versus a certain antigen, it will stay in your blood stream to secure against future infections with that certain foreign compound.
If you’ve ever been exposed to T. gondii, antibodies will exist in your blood. This implies you will test favorable for the antibodies. If your tests return favorable, then you’ve been infected with this disease eventually in your life. A positive result does not always imply that you presently have an active infection.
If your tests return favorable for antibodies, your doctor might 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 likewise help determine whether the fetus has actually been infected.
If your fetus is detected with toxoplasmosis, you’ll most likely be referred to an expert. Hereditary counseling will also be suggested. The alternative of ending the pregnancy, depending upon the gestational age of the baby, might be provided as a possibility. If you continue the pregnancy, your doctor will likely recommend antibiotics to help reduce your baby’s risk of symptoms.
How Is Toxoplasmosis Treated?
Your doctor might suggest not treating your toxoplasmosis if it isn’t really causing any symptoms. Most healthy individuals who establish an infection do not have any symptoms or develop mild symptoms.
If the disease is severe, is persistent, includes the eyes, or involves the internal organs, your doctor will usually recommend pyrimethamine (Daraprim) and sulfadiazine. Pyrimethamine is likewise used to treat malaria. Sulfadiazine is an antibiotic.
If you have HIV or AIDS, you might need to continue these medications for life. Pyrimethamine reduces your levels of folic acid, which is a type of B vitamin. Your doctor might likewise ask you to take extra vitamin B while taking the drug.
Treatment During Pregnancy
Treatment during pregnancy is somewhat various. Your course of treatment will depend upon whether your coming child is infected and the intensity of the infection. Your doctor will talk with you about the best course for your specific case. Probably, you’ll be prescribed an antibiotic according to how far along you are in your pregnancy to reduce the probability of transmission to the fetus. An antibiotic called spiramycin is generally advised in the first and early 2nd trimester. A combination of pyrimethamine/sulfadiazine and leucovorin is usually used during the late second and third trimesters.
If your coming baby has toxoplasmosis, pyrimethamine and sulfadiazine may be thought about as a treatment. However, both drugs have considerable side effects on women and the fetus and are only used as a last resort. The prospective side effects include suppression of the bone marrow that helps produce blood cells and liver toxicity.
What Is the Outlook for People with Toxoplasmosis
The outlook for individuals with this condition depends on several aspects. Pregnant women who establish this condition will have to deal with their doctor to come up with a treatment plan that’s right for them. Infants born with toxoplasmosis may receive treatments for up to a year.
People with AIDS and children with jeopardized body immune systems might have to be hospitalized for treatment to avoid complications.
If you aren’t pregnant and you do not have any hidden health conditions you need to recover in several weeks. Your doctor might not prescribe any treatments if your symptoms are mild and you’re otherwise healthy.
How Is Toxoplasmosis Prevented?
You can prevent toxoplasmosis by:
- cleaning all fresh fruit and vegetables before you eat it
- making sure all meat is appropriately prepared
- cleaning all utensils that are used to manage raw meat
- cleaning your hands after cleaning up or scooping feline litter.
Pregnant women ought to have another person tidy the feline litter box during their pregnancy.