Toxoplasmosis

Toxoplasmosis is an infectious disease caused by a minute parasite ingested via the mouth (e.g. by eating raw meat).

Overview

Toxoplasmosis is an infectious disease caused by a minute parasite ingested via the mouth (e.g. by eating raw meat). It usually goes unnoticed or has a mild progression (cold symptoms). The disease course can be severe for unborn children and persons with a weakened immune system because it also attacks the brain or the lungs. Precautionary measures are recommended during pregnancy.

Symptoms

Intact immune system
Weakened immune system

The following are possible in addition to the above symptoms:

Pregnancy
  • Can be deadly for the unborn child
    • Stillborn child or miscarriage (spontaneous abortion)
  • If the child survives: long-term damage is possible
    • Examples: blindness, mental disability

Causes and treatment

Cause

  • Pathogen: Toxoplasma gondii (single-celled parasite)
  • Found: worldwide, in cats and other mammals
  • Transmission:
    • Eating of raw or insufficiently heated meat
    • Contact with cat faeces (smear infection, ingested through the mouth)
    • Pregnancy: unborn child is infected via the placenta
  • Chronic infection, reactivated by a weakened immune system/HIV and AIDS

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Possible tests
Possible therapies
  • Asymptomatic course
    • Wait and see
    • Treatment usually isn't necessary
  • Antiparasitics
    • Symptoms, pregnancy, immunodeficiency

What can I do myself?

  • Wash hands thoroughly
    • After working in the garden
    • After touching raw meat
    • After touching pets or their faeces
  • Wash fruit, salads and vegetables thoroughly before eating
Recommendations for pregnant women
  • Go for regular pregnancy check-ups
  • Meat (including poultry)
    • Always grill or cook thoroughly
    • Wash hands thoroughly after touching meat
    • Thoroughly clean kitchen equipment
  • Wear rubber gloves when gardening
  • Clean hands regularly (with soap and brush)
    • After touching sand in playpen and (house) pets
    • Before/after cooking, before every meal
    • Before brushing the teeth
  • Cats/pets
    • Only feed tinned food or cooked meat
    • Litter tray: don’t keep in the kitchen; have someone else clean it or wear rubber gloves when cleaning out the cat litter

When to see a doctor?

Further information

Federal Office of Public Health, FOPH (Bundesamt für Gesundheit, BAG)
www.bag.admin.ch/bag/en

Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office, FSVO (Bundesamt für Veterinärwesen, BVET)
www.blv.admin.ch/blv/en

Synonyms

toxoplasmosis, toxoplasma gondii

Exclusion of liability

CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.

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