What is the prognosis for individuals infected with toxoplasmosis?
Toxoplasmosis is a parasitic infection caused by the parasitic protozoan Toxoplasma gondii. People can acquire a Toxoplasma infection from contact with infected cats either directly or indirectly from the environment. Untreated Toxoplasmosis can lead to severe health problems in humans, especially in those with weakened immune systems such as pregnant women and people with HIV/AIDS.
Diagnosis of Toxoplasmosis in Humans
Diagnosis of Toxoplasmosis in humans may be made through a combination of physical examination, laboratory tests, and imaging studies. Your health care provider will likely ask about your medical history and any recent contact with cats or their feces.
Laboratory tests may be done such as detecting antibodies against Toxoplasma in your blood, measuring Toxoplasma levels, or analyzing a sample of your body fluid such as amniotic fluid.
Imaging studies such as CT scans, MRIs, and ultrasounds may be used to look for evidence of an infection caused by Toxoplasma.
Treatment Options for Toxoplasmosis in Humans
The treatment for Toxoplasmosis may involve medications and lifestyle changes. Medications may include antiparasitic medications such as pyrimethamine, clindamycin, and sulfadiazine. Other medications such as steroid medications or antibiotics may be used to reduce inflammation or to help fight a secondary infection.
Lifestyle changes to prevent Toxoplasmosis include avoiding contact with infected cats and keeping your environment clean. Be sure to wear disposable gloves when working with soil or animal feces and wash your hands well afterwards. Avoid eating undercooked and raw meat, particularly pork, lamb, and venison.
Health Risks from Toxoplasmosis in Humans
The health risks from Toxoplasmosis infection vary depending on a person’s health history and immune system. In general, people with healthy immune systems may experience mild symptoms such as fever, tiredness, and sore throat. People with weakened immune systems such as pregnant women and those with HIV/AIDS may be more severely affected and may be at risk of serious complications such as vision loss, mental retardation, and even death.
It is important to speak to your health care provider if you believe you may have been exposed to Toxoplasmosis. Talk to your health care provider about diagnosis, testing and treatment options. Following your health care provider’s instructions and taking precautions to avoid exposure can help to protect you and your loved ones from Toxoplasmosis infection.