Toxoplasmosis is a common infection in people, birds, and animals
that often is not noticed or may cause mild flu-like symptoms. But the
infection can cause problems for a fetus (when the mother becomes infected) and
for people who have weakened immune systems.
Human infection usually happens when a person eats food that
contains the toxoplasmosis parasite, such as undercooked meat from an infected
animal. You also can get infected by touching an infected cat or its feces.
Most people develop an immunity during the 2 months after the infection.
Infection during pregnancy is rare. In most parts of North
America, infected newborns are very rare. Toxoplasmosis can cause blindness or
brain damage in an infected infant. Pregnant women and newborns who have
toxoplasmosis are treated with antibiotics.
People who have
impaired immune systems are vulnerable to severe toxoplasmosis. People who have
AIDS, are receiving cancer treatment, or are taking organ transplant medicine
can develop life-threatening infections in the brain, lungs, or heart, as well
as eye damage. Antibiotics are used to prevent toxoplasmosis as well as to
aggressively treat the infection.