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. 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 determine
if they have developed an antibody to the illness. Fetal testing may include ultrasound,
and testing of amniotic fluid or cord blood. Treatment may include antibiotics.
The CDC recommends the following measures to help prevent toxoplasmosis infection:
Wear gloves when you garden or do anything outdoors that involves handling soil. Cats,
who may pass the parasite in their feces, often use gardens and sandboxes as litter
boxes. Wash your hands well with soap and warm water after outdoor activities, especially
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 thoroughly. 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.