Toxoplasmosis Definition, Reason, Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention

Toxoplasmosis Definition, Reason, Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention


Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by infection with the protozoa Toxoplasma gondii. In various areas of the world, it has been found that toxoplasma infection affects up to 95% of the population.

Areas prone to infection are often areas with a hot, humid, and low-lying climate.

Toxoplasmosis Symptoms

Only 10–20% of Toxoplasmosis in adults and children show symptoms. In someone with a compromised immune system, this disease can be life-threatening. In those with a good immune system, this disease is often asymptomatic.

Some non-specific signs that may appear, if any, are swollen lymph nodes in the neck area, fever, fatigue, night sweats, muscle aches, and sore throat.

In those with a poor immune system but not AIDS, the most common symptoms are central nervous system toxoplasmosis (seizures, headaches, impaired consciousness, cranial nerve disorders, etc.), encephalitis, meningoencephalitis, and visual disturbances. It could also be in the form of toxoplasmosis pneumonitis (dry cough, tightness, chest pain, fever), myocarditis, and the like.

Infection in those with AIDS often affects the brain (toxoplasmic encephalitis) with symptoms such as impaired consciousness, seizures, weakness, sensory disturbances, and the like. Other parts of the body that are often affected are the lungs (Toxoplasmosis pneumonitis) and eyes (Toxoplasmosis ocular – characterized by eye pain and loss of vision).

Congenital toxoplasmosis causes ocular toxoplasmosis in 15% of cases. In 10% of cases, intracranial calcifications can be found. In addition, you can find anemia, low and yellow platelets at birth, microcephaly, mental disabilities, seizures, visual disturbances, body rigidity, deafness, and other neurological disorders.

Toxoplasmosis Reason

Toxoplasmosis is caused by Toxoplasma infection. Here are some routes of infection that can occur in humans:

  • Through food

Toxoplasma parasites in the form of cysts can infect humans through food. This can occur, among other things, through the consumption of undercooked meat contaminated with parasites (especially pork, deer and goat).

  • Human-animal infections

Infection through animals can occur mainly through cats. Cats can become infected with Toxoplasma if they eat infected rodents, birds or other small animals.

Once infected, cats can excrete these parasites in the form of oocytes for up to three weeks. Cat feces containing Toxoplasma oocytes can contaminate the litter box or soil and the environment (if the cat is allowed to roam outside the house).

  • Mother-daughter infection

When a person is newly infected with Toxoplasma during pregnancy, this infection can be transmitted to the fetus in the womb (congenital infection). Pregnant women who are infected may not show symptoms. However, serious problems can occur in the fetus (especially in the eyes and central nervous system).

  • Rare case

Although rare, the infection can be transmitted through organ transplants from donors who are positively infected with Toxoplasma or blood transfusions.


The diagnosis of Toxoplasmosis is determined by finding Toxoplasma gondii in the body. Samples of blood, tissue, or body fluids are usually needed to support the diagnosis. Examination by PCR is generally done to ensure this.

In pregnant women and those with impaired immune systems, it is usually recommended to do an ELISA examination. The aim is to check for the presence of immunoglobulin against Toxoplasma.

Toxoplasmosis Treatment

In people with toxoplasmosis who are asymptomatic, treatment is often not needed, except in children under five years of age. Patients with symptoms need to receive treatment until their immune status is known.

Patients with AIDS (with a CD4 count of less than 100 cells/µL) require suppressive therapy for Toxoplasma gondii. Pyrimethamine is a drug that is usually given together with folinic acid (to avoid bone marrow suppression).


Several efforts can be made to help prevent infection so as to avoid Toxoplasmosis, such as:

  • Cook meat until done. The temperature that can be used as a benchmark is 630C for cuts of meat, 710C for ground meat, and 740C for poultry. After cooking, cuts of meat and poultry should be left for three minutes before consumption (ground beef can be consumed immediately after cooking).

‘Resting’ food after cooking helps kill pathogens because the temperature of the food stays the same or even rises even when it is removed from the heat source.

  • Reduce the risk of infection by freezing the meat (at around -17 to -180C) for a few days before processing.
  • Peel and wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly before consuming.
  • Avoid eating raw or undercooked shellfish (can contain Toxoplasma which is carried into seawater).
  • Wash kitchen utensils (including cutting boards, plates, pots, etc.) and hands with hot water and soap after contact with raw meat, poultry, seafood or unwashed fruit/vegetables.
  • When in contact with soil (eg gardening), wear gloves. Wash hands with soap and water after contact with soil. Soil can be contaminated with faeces containing Toxoplasma.
  • Teach children the habit of washing their hands to avoid infection.

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