Encyclopedia > Toxoplasmosis

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Toxoplasmosis is a human parasitic disease caused by the parasite Toxoplasma gondii. People can get infected by eating raw meat or by contact with cat faeces. Congenital toxoplasmosis is a special form in which an unborn child is infected via the placenta. The danger of congenital toxoplasmosis is the reason that pregnant women should avoid contact with cats.

At least one third of the world population may have had a toxoplasmosis infection in their lifetime, but the parasite rarely causes any symptoms in otherwise healthy adults. People with a weakened immune system are susceptible, such as people infected with HIV. The parasite can cause encephalitis (infection of the brain) and neurologic diseases and can affect the heart, liver, and eyes (chorioretinitis).

Treatment is very important for infected pregnant women, to prevent infection of the foetus. But even with antibiotics the parasite cannot be killed completely and the infection can come back later.

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