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Toxoplasmosis (toxoplasma) | Symptoms, causes, treatments and prevention

Toxoplasmosis is a common infectious disease

Toxoplasmosis is an infectious disease caused by a parasite that animals transmit to humans. It is a common disease that is rarely recognized, since most people infected show no signs or symptoms. It is usually transmitted to humans by pets, especially cats, or by ingesting undercooked meat.

It is a mild illness for most people, but it can sometimes cause certain flu-like symptoms.

The disease can be dangerous for people with weakened immune systems or for pregnant women, as it can affect the development of the fetus (congenital toxoplasmosis).

Although toxoplasmosis cannot be caught from an infected adult or child, the disease can be contracted:

Symptoms of toxoplasmosis

The incubation period of toxoplasmosis is poorly understood. It is estimated to last between five to ten days after being contaminated by the parasite.

In more than 80% of cases, toxoplasmosis goes unnoticed.

Otherwise, various symptoms appear:

Acquired ocular involvement (chorioretinitis) with a tendency to relapse is occasionally observed in foreign-acquired toxoplasmosis (Latin America, Africa) and is caused by more virulent parasites.

After an illness, the toxoplasmosis parasite remains in the body (mainly in the nerve and muscle tissue) for years. However, it does not cause symptoms because the infected person’s immune system keeps it in an inactive form.

Complications of toxoplasmosis

In people whose immune system is weakened, especially in cases of AIDS / HIV, toxoplasmosis can lead to seizures or encephalitis (severe infections of the nervous system) which can be fatal.

Women who contract toxoplasmosis shortly before or during their pregnancy have a 30% risk of infecting their baby, even if they have no symptoms of the disease. The baby is more likely to contact the infection if the mother is newly infected during the third trimester than if she is infected during the first trimester.

Infections in early pregnancy can cause miscarriage. Moreover, serious consequences for the baby are rarer in the third trimester.

Some of them may develop:

In the majority of cases, children infected during pregnancy will show no symptoms at birth and during the first year of life. Those who are not treated could develop the symptoms of the disease in adolescence or when they are young adults:

How do you get contaminated with the toxoplasmosis parasite?

Before contaminating humans, the parasite (Toxoplasma gondii) affects animals (called “hosts”):

In herbivores and omnivores (pigs, cattle, sheep, goats, etc.) as well as in birds, the parasite is present in inactive forms (cysts). These animals are therefore intermediate hosts that show no symptoms.

On the other hand, humans can develop toxoplasmosis if they ingest the cysts contained in undercooked contaminated meat from these animals (mainly pork, beef). Undercooking does not kill cysts.
The parasite (Toxoplasma gondii) can also be transmitted to cats and other felines called “definitive hosts”: it takes an active form (oocysts). These animals eliminate parasites (oocysts) in their excrement and can thus contaminate humans.

The sources of contamination are:


Diagnosis of toxoplasmosis in immunocompetent subjects, including pregnant women

The indications for the biological diagnosis of toxoplasmosis in immunocompetent subjects are as follows: pregnant women (systematic screening), subjects suspected of ocular toxoplasmosis and patients presenting with non-specific symptoms, in particular if the latter are severe.

In these indications, the biological diagnosis of toxoplasmosis consists of:

In this context of diagnosis of toxoplasmosis in the immunocompetent subject, the search for serum anti-Toxoplasma antibodies of IgA and IgE isotypes is not relevant.

Pre- and postnatal diagnosis of congenital toxoplasmosis

This diagnosis consists of:

The search for Toxoplasma DNA by gene amplification (PCR) on amniotic fluid, specifying the following elements:

Given the complexity of interpreting certain tests, and in order to ensure continuity between the pre- and postnatal diagnosis, the pre- and postnatal biological diagnosis examinations of congenital toxoplasmosis should be carried out by expert laboratories in toxoplasmosis working in a network and in consultation with clinicians.

Diagnosis of ocular toxoplasmosis

Indications for laboratory diagnosis of ocular toxoplasmosis are: Toxoplasmosis-seropositive subjects with atypical ocular lesions, fulminant expression of the disease, uncertain differential diagnosis with other causes of retinochoroiditis, and delayed response to anti-toxoplasma challenge treatment. .

This diagnosis consists of the following tests, the implementation and interpretation of which are the responsibility of expert laboratories in toxoplasmosis:

For all clinical contexts of toxoplasmos (within the scope of this assessment):

As far as the place of performance is concerned, the diagnostic examinations for toxoplasmosis are carried out either by so-called “polyvalent” or “front-line” laboratories, or by so-called “expert” laboratories in toxoplasmosis. This distinction is based on the particular technicality of the examination in question and/or on the complexity of the clinical situation. An expert laboratory is mainly defined by its mastery of uncommon or manual techniques, its ability to handle complex files, and its integration into a network of reflection and collaboration with the various clinicians and other expert laboratories.

Preventions of Toxoplasmosis


– Wash your hands thoroughly, especially after handling raw meat, raw vegetables soiled with dirt or gardening and before each meal
– Wear gloves for gardening or for any contact with soil
– Have the cat’s litter box washed daily with boiling water by another person or wear gloves
– Thoroughly cook all types of meat (including poultry and game)
– When preparing meals, wash vegetables and aromatic plants with plenty of water, especially if they are earthy and eaten raw
– Wash kitchen utensils and work surfaces with plenty of clean water.

In the event of meals taken outside the home, pregnant women must eat well-cooked meat and “avoid raw vegetables” by “preferring cooked vegetables”.

Freezing food of animal origin at -18°C (-0.4°F) is one of the essential additional measures. As for precautionary measures, they concern foods whose consumption is not recommended, namely raw goat’s milk, marinated, brined or smoked meat and raw molluscs (oils, mussels, etc.).

Diseases | List of Diseases: dermatological, cardiovascular, respiratory, cancer, eye, genetic, infectious, mental illness, rare

Information: Cleverly Smart is not a substitute for a doctor. Always consult a doctor to treat your health condition.

Sources: PinterPandai, CDC, Wikipedia, NHS UK, Cleveland Clinic, State Government of Victoria – Australia, European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC)

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