Causes of toxoplasmosis

Toxoplasmosis is an infection by the parasite Toxoplasma gondii. This parasite can get into your system if you eat raw or undercooked meat, raw eggs or unpasteurised milk.

You can also get this infection by accidentally swallowing contaminated soil or cat poo from an infected cat. This can happen if you get the parasite on your hands then put your hands in your mouth.

Children and adults with weak immune systems are most at risk of toxoplasmosis infection.

Toxoplasmosis symptoms

Most children and adults who are infected with toxoplasmosis have no symptoms at all.

Sometimes your child might have a swollen lymph gland, most commonly in the neck. Sometimes an infected person will have fatigue and muscle aches. It’s rare for the disease to affect other organs.

Toxoplasmosis might affect the eyes of an adolescent child. In this case, it can cause chorioretinitis, a condition that results in blurred vision and dark, floating spots in front of your child’s eyes.

When to see your doctor about toxoplasmosis symptoms

You should take your child to the doctor if:

  • your child has unexplained swelling of her glands, especially in her neck
  • your child has unexplained headaches or fever
  • your adolescent child has blurred vision and dark floating spots in her vision
  • you’re worried or have any questions.

If your child has a weakened immune system and has the symptoms described above, be sure to see your doctor.

See your doctor immediately if you’re pregnant and you think you might be infected. Toxoplasmosis can cause serious problems for your unborn baby.

Toxoplasmosis treatment

Toxoplasmosis treatment depends on how bad the symptoms are.

If your child has no symptoms or is only mildly affected, he won’t need treatment. Otherwise, specific antiparasite medications do exist.

Prevention of toxoplasmosis

You can reduce the risk of getting toxoplasmosis by avoiding raw or undercooked meat and eggs and unpasteurised milk products.

Wearing gloves while changing cat litter trays or when gardening can also help.