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Toxoplasmosis

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

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.

DISCHARGE INSTRUCTIONS:

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.

Medicines:

You may need any of the following:

  • Medicines help treat toxoplasmosis. You may be given medicine to prevent toxoplasmosis if you have a weak immune system.
  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.
  • Acetaminophen decreases pain and fever. It is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. Read the labels of all other medicines you are using to see if they also contain acetaminophen, or ask your doctor or pharmacist. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly. Do not use more than 4 grams (4,000 milligrams) total of acetaminophen in one day.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him of her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

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 (Discharge Care)

Associated drugs

Symptoms and treatments

Mayo Clinic Reference

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