Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by a parasite. In America, more than 60 million people are infected with the disease. Many of the people who are infected are not aware they have this single-celled parasite, as they may not show any symptoms. Also, the human body’s immune system keeps the toxoplasmosis parasite from causing any symptoms or illness.
Toxoplasmosis can be contracted a few different ways. One of the main ways to become infected is through cat feces. If you were unknowingly to swallow cat feces, you may become infected with the parasite. This can happen in a number of ways. If you touch your mouth with your hands after cleaning a cat’s litter box, you may become infected. Anything that has come into contact with cat feces is a potential risk.
Another way to become infected with the parasite is by eating uncooked meat. Meat that is raw or has not been cooked long enough is another potential risk. You may place your hands to your mouth unknowingly after handling raw meat. This is enough to transfer the toxoplasmosis parasite into the body. Meats that are a particularly risk include venison, pork and lamb.
You can also contract toxoplasmosis by drinking contaminated water. On rare occasions, contaminated blood may be given in a blood transfusion. Cases of infected organs that have been transplanted have also been recorded, although this is rare.
The symptoms of toxoplasmosis are varied. Some people may have the parasite without being aware of it. Others may feel unwell with flu like symptoms. Swollen and aching muscles may also occur and last for around a month.
People with weak immune systems can suffer from severe symptoms of toxoplasmosis. These can include damage to certain organs, including the brain and eyes. Damage to the eyes from toxoplasmosis can occur even in people with the healthiest of immune systems.
Some people are more likely to be infected with the parasite than others. Infants can be infected while still forming in the womb. This happens if the mother becomes infected before or during the pregnancy. People who already have infections that weaken their immune systems, such as AIDS or HIV, are very susceptible to toxoplasmosis.
If you think you may be infected with toxoplasmosis or are showing any of the symptoms, contact a doctor immediately. Blood tests that are specifically designed to show the parasite will be administered. There are medications available, but most are designed for pregnant women. If you are not pregnant and are healthy, the symptoms of toxoplasmosis should disappear within a month.