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Toxoplasmosis

AMBULATORY CARE:

Toxoplasmosis

is an infection caused by parasites. Healthy adults usually do not become ill from this infection. The infection may cause illness in adults with a weak immune system. If you have a weak immune system, toxoplasmosis may damage your eyes, brain, or other organs. Women who are infected during pregnancy are at risk for miscarriage, preterm labor, and having a baby with birth defects.

Signs and symptoms:

Most people do not have signs and symptoms of toxoplasmosis. Some people may have symptoms similar to the flu, such as fever, nausea, vomiting, muscle aches or swollen lymph nodes. Toxoplasmosis infection of your eyes may cause blurry vision, red eyes, or pain when you look at light. Toxoplasmosis infection of your brain may cause a headache, confusion, trouble moving, or a seizure. Other symptoms may depend on which organs are affected.

Call 911 for any of the following:

  • You have trouble breathing or have chest pain.
  • You have a seizure.
  • You cannot be woken.
  • You lose consciousness.

Seek care immediately if:

  • Your eyes or skin are yellow.
  • You feel weak, confused, and have trouble thinking.
  • You have a severe headache.
  • You have severe abdominal pain and your abdomen is larger than usual.
  • You have trouble walking or moving any part of your body.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have a fever.
  • You have nausea or are vomiting.
  • The lymph nodes in your neck, groin, or under your arms feel hard and swollen.
  • You have changes in your vision or blurry vision.
  • Your eyes are sensitive to light.
  • The white part of your eye is red.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Treatment for toxoplasmosis:

Healthy adults who are not pregnant may not need treatment. You may need medicine to manage symptoms such as fever. If you are pregnant or have a weak immune system, you may be given medicine to treat the infection.

Self-care:

  • Drink plenty of liquids as directed. Liquids can prevent dehydration. Ask how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you.
  • Rest as directed. Ask your healthcare provider when you can return to your normal activities.

Prevent toxoplasmosis:

You may be given medicine to prevent toxoplasmosis if you have a weak immune system.

  • Freeze meat for at least 48 hours before you cook it. This helps kill parasites and other harmful bacteria.
  • Cook meat as directed.
    • Cook ground meat to 160°F.
    • Cook ground poultry, whole poultry, or cuts of poultry to at least 165°F. Remove the meat from heat. Let it stand for 3 minutes before you eat it.
    • Cook whole cuts of meat other than poultry to at least 145°F. Remove the meat from heat. Let it stand for 3 minutes before you eat it.
  • Do not eat raw or undercooked oysters, clams, or mussels. These foods may be contaminated and cause infection.
  • Peel and wash fruits and vegetables before you eat them. Parasites from the soil can get onto fruits and vegetables.
  • Wash dishes that have touched raw meat with hot water and soap. This includes cutting boards, utensils, dishes, and serving containers.
  • Drink filtered or treated water only. If you travel to countries outside of the US and Europe, make sure your drinking water is safe. If you do not know if the water is safe, drink bottled water only.

Care for cats safely:

Cats and kittens can carry the parasites that causes toxoplasmosis. Do the following to prevent getting toxoplasmosis from cats:

  • Clean your cat's litter box every day. Wear disposable gloves when possible. Remove your cat's bowel movements. Wash your hands with soap and warm water after you clean the litter box.
  • Keep your cat indoors. This will decrease the risk that your cat will eat something infected with parasites. Feed your cat dry or canned food instead of raw or undercooked meat. Do not let stray cats or kittens into your home.
  • Wear gloves when you garden or touch soil or sand. Cats sometimes have a bowel movement in these places. Keep outdoor sandboxes covered. Wash your hands with soap and warm water after you garden or touch soil or sand.

Other ways to prevent toxoplasmosis if you are pregnant:

You should do all of the above to prevent toxoplasmosis. You should also do the following:

  • Do not clean your cat's litter box. Ask a friend or family member to clean it for you. If someone cannot help you, wear disposable gloves when you clean the litter box. Wash your hands with soap and warm water after you change it.
  • Do not handle kittens or stray cats. These animals are usually infected with parasites.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Toxoplasmosis (Ambulatory Care)

Symptoms and treatments

Mayo Clinic Reference

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