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.
But 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.
A parasite causes toxoplasmosis.
You can get the infection by:
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:
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.
If 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.
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 antibiotic.
This medicine may:
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.
There are several things you can do to avoid getting toxoplasmosis:
Learning about toxoplasmosis:
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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)'s website on parasites offers information on diseases caused by parasites. It provides information on topics such as malaria, neglected tropical diseases, and parasitic infections in the United States. There are also links to related information, such as a glossary and a site on healthy water, and other references and resources, such as statistics on parasitic diseases.
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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 sign up to get weekly emails about your area of interest.
|Primary Medical Reviewer||Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology|
|Last Revised||June 2, 2011|
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