Dr. M.J. Bazos,
Toxoplasmosis is an infection
caused by a protozoa (a microscopic organism) that is found in birds, animals,
and humans. The disease is most dangerous for an individual with a suppressed
immune system (someone receiving chemotherapy, a patient with AIDS, or a
transplant recipient) or a pregnant woman. It affects the gastrointestinal
tract, heart, nerves, and skin. The disease can be transmitted by eating
undercooked meat from an infected animal, especially lamb and pork, or by
handling cat litter if the cat harbors the
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Most healthy individuals do
not have any symptoms and do not require treatment. Others may have fever,
fatigue, muscle aches, headache, and swollen lymph glands. Treatment is
necessary for children younger than 5 years to prevent eye complications. Other
complications that can occur include inflammation of the brain, heart and lung
damage. Complications are more frequent in patients with a suppressed immune
system. If a pregnant woman has the infection in the early stages of her
pregnancy, she may miscarry, have a stillbirth, or the infant may be born with
individuals don’t require treatment. Others may need prescription drugs
such as sulfadiazine, trisulfapyrimidines, or pyrimethamine for 4–6 weeks.
These drugs can cause side effects such as an upset stomach, sun sensitivity,
bleeding, or bruising. Your doctor will do blood tests frequently to monitor the
side effects. Activity levels will depend on the type of symptoms experienced.
Tylenol or tepid sponge baths can be used to reduce the fever. No special diet
is needed, but fluid intake should be
• Use Tylenol for aches and
• Use tepid sponge baths to
help reduce fever.
• Rest until
symptoms subside, and gradually increase your
• Continue your medication
until finished or stopped by your
• Take the medication with
food to decrease stomach upset.
Keep appointments for follow-up blood
• Use sunscreen when outdoors
because the medication may make you more sensitive to the
• Have someone else change the
litter box if you suspect you are pregnant, or you have a suppressed immune
• Properly cook
• Wash your hands
• Keep a child’s
sandbox covered to keep cats out.
Keep flies away from food.
• Don’t eat
undercooked meats, especially lamb and pork, uncooked eggs, or unpasteurized
• Don’t change the cat
litter box if you are pregnant, have had an organ transplant, are receiving
chemotherapy, or have AIDS.
Don’t stop taking your medication before it is finished unless ordered by
• Don’t stay in
the sun for long periods or forget your
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• If the symptoms
don’t improve after you start
• If you experience any
bleeding or bruising.
• If you start
to have visual changes or increased weakness.