Toxoplasmosis is a common
infection found in birds, animals, and people.
For most people, it
doesn't cause serious health problems. But for a pregnant woman’s growing baby,
it can cause brain damage and vision loss. Still, the chance of a pregnant
woman getting the infection and passing it on to her baby is low.
If you're pregnant or planning to have a baby and are worried that you
may have toxoplasmosis, ask your doctor about getting tested. After you have
had the infection, you're usually immune and can't get it again or pass it on to your baby.
if you aren't immune, you'll want to take special care while you're pregnant.
Avoid anything that may be infected, such as infected meat
and infected cat feces.
Eating infected meat that hasn't been fully
cooked or frozen.
Digging or gardening in sand or soil where an infected cat
has left feces.
Changing an infected cat’s litter box. Cats
infected with the parasite pass it on to others through their
Eating anything that has touched infected cat
feces, including fruits and vegetables that haven't been washed. You can also
get the infection by eating food that has touched tables and counters your cat
has walked on.
What are the symptoms?
If you get toxoplasmosis,
you may feel like you have the flu, or you may not feel sick at all. Most
people who get the infection don't even know that they have it. Symptoms may include:
How is toxoplasmosis diagnosed?
A blood test can
tell whether you have or have ever had toxoplasmosis. If you're worried about
getting the infection, ask your doctor about having the test.
you get the infection while you're pregnant, you'll need to have your baby
tested. Your doctor can take some fluid from the sac that surrounds your baby
and check for the infection.
How is it treated?
In healthy people, the infection often goes away on its own. But babies and
people whose bodies can't fight infection well will need to take medicine to treat
the infection and prevent serious health problems.
If you get toxoplasmosis while
you're pregnant, you'll take medicine that treats the infection. This medicine
is called an
This medicine may:
Keep your baby from getting the
Lower your baby’s chance of having serious health
problems if he or she does get it.
Your baby has a better chance of being healthy at birth if
you get treatment while you're pregnant.
Most newborns who have been infected with toxoplasmosis have no symptoms at birth. If your baby has the
infection, he or she will need to take antibiotics for a year after birth.
This lowers the chance of having problems later on.
How can you prevent toxoplasmosis during pregnancy?
There are several things you can do to avoid getting
Wash your hands and anything you use to prepare raw meat,
chicken, fish, fruits, or vegetables.
If you have a cat or are caring for one, ask
someone to clean or empty the litter box while you're pregnant. Wash tables and
counters well if a cat may have walked on them. If you have to clean the cat’s
litter box, wear gloves and a face mask. Be sure to wash your hands after
If you eat meat, make sure it has been fully cooked or frozen. Avoid dried meats, such as beef jerky.
If you touch soil, be sure to wear gloves and wash your hands
after you're done. Avoid contact with cat feces
in your garden.
Wash fruits and vegetables before you eat
Avoid untreated drinking water. This is a concern when you are in the wilderness or when you travel to a country where drinking water is not treated.
This American Academy of Pediatrics website has information for parents about childhood issues, from before the child is born to young adulthood. You'll find information on child growth and development, immunizations, safety, health issues, behavior, and much more.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
Division of Parasitic Diseases
1600 Clifton Road
Atlanta, GA 30333
The Division of Parasitic Diseases is a branch of the
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Its mission is to
prevent and control parasitic diseases throughout the world. Its Web site
provides information and updates on parasitic diseases.
KidsHealth for Parents, Children, and
10140 Centurion Parkway North
Jacksonville, FL 32256
This website is sponsored by the Nemours Foundation. It
has a wide range of information about children's health, from allergies and
diseases to normal growth and development (birth to adolescence). This website
offers separate areas for kids, teens, and parents, each providing
age-appropriate information that the child or parent can understand. You can
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How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.