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Toxoplasmosis (cont.)

Toxoplasmosis Prevention

Prevention of toxoplasmosis centers on avoiding ingestion of the parasites. The following is suggested by the CDC and other public-health officials to prevent or reduce the chance of getting toxoplasmosis:

  • Thoroughly cook all meat (freezing meat for several days may also reduce the chance of ingesting viable Toxoplasma).
  • Carefully wash hands and utensils after handling raw meat.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables before eating them.
  • Do not drink unpasteurized milk or drink untreated water.
  • Feed cats only commercially prepared cat food or thoroughly cooked food.
  • Do not adopt or handle stray cats.
  • Do not obtain a new cat while pregnant.
  • Pregnant women should wear gloves while gardening, thoroughly wash their hands afterward, and avoid contacting any cat feces; they should have others change cat litter boxes (change litter boxes daily).
  • Keep outdoor sandboxes covered when not in use.

Toxoplasma-infected pregnant individuals can infect their fetus; treatment of the mother can reduce the chances of infecting the fetus. Organ and blood donors infected with Toxoplasma can transmit the parasite to recipients; testing donors for the parasite can prevent this rare type of infection. Studies are ongoing to produce a vaccine against Toxoplasma, but to date, none are available or commercially produced for humans or cats.

Toxoplasmosis Prognosis

Most people who get toxoplasmosis will have an excellent outcome with no significant short- or long-term problems. However, an infected fetus or infant has a prognosis that may range from good to poor, depending on when in development they become infected, how rapidly the disease progresses and is diagnosed, and the response to treatment. However, the prognosis is usually poor if the fetus is infected in the first trimester; many such fetuses die or develop severe physical and mental problems seen at birth. Immunocompromised individuals have a good to poor prognosis, depending on how quickly the diagnosis is made and now well the patient responds to treatment. For example, if encephalitis develops due to toxoplasmosis in a patient with HIV, the prognosis can be good if the patient responds to treatment, but treatment usually needs to be continued for life.

Medically reviewed by Robert Cox, MD; American Board of Internal Medicine with subspecialty in Infectious Disease

REFERENCES:

Hökelek, M. "Toxoplasmosis." eMedicine Jan. 27, 2009 <http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/229969-overview>.

United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Toxoplasmosis." Jan. 11, 2008 <http://www.cdc.gov/toxoplasmosis/>.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/8/2016

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