Table of Contents What does Toxoplasma gondii do to humans? Toxoplasmosis is a parasitic infection that may cause flu-like symptoms. The organism that causes toxoplasmosis is one of the world's most common parasites.\u00a0 Anyone can become infected with Toxoplasma. The parasite is found throughout the world.\u00a0 Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) 01 is a single-celled parasitic organism that can infect most animals and birds. But because it reproduces sexually only in cats, wild and domestic felines are the parasite's ultimate host. Can you get rid of Toxoplasma gondii? Most people affected never develop signs and symptoms. But for infants born to infected mothers and for people with compromised immune systems, toxoplasmosis can cause extremely serious complications. If you're generally healthy, you probably won't need any treatment for toxoplasmosis. If you're pregnant or have lowered immunity, certain medications can help reduce the infection's severity. The best approach, though, is prevention. Where is Toxoplasma gondii found in the body? Most often, you won't know that you've contracted toxoplasmosis, although some people may develop toxoplasmosis symptoms similar to those of the\u00a0flu\u00a0or mononucleosis, such as: \tBody aches \tSwollen lymph nodes \tHeadache \tFever \tFatigue \tOccasionally, a sore throat \u00a0What is the infective stage of Toxoplasma gondii? If you are living with\u00a0HIV\/AIDS, are receiving chemotherapy, or have recently had an organ transplant, you're more likely to develop signs and symptoms of severe toxoplasmosis infection, including: \tHeadache \tConfusion \tPoor coordination \tSeizures \tLung problems that may resemble\u00a0tuberculosis\u00a0or Pneumocystis carinii\u00a0pneumonia, a common opportunistic infection that occurs in people with AIDS \tBlurred vision caused by severe inflammation of your retina (ocular toxoplasmosis) you can become infected\u00a0 with\u00a0Toxoplasmosis\u00a0if you come in contact with: \tCat feces that contain the parasite. You may accidentally ingest the parasites if you touch your mouth after gardening, cleaning a litter box, or touching anything that's come in contact with infected cat feces. Cats who hunt or who are fed raw meat are most likely to harbor T. gondii. \tIngesting contaminated food or water. Lamb, pork, and venison are especially likely to be infected with Toxoplasma gondii. Occasionally, unpasteurized dairy products also may contain breast cysts. Additionally, while not common in the United States, water can be contaminated with T. gondii, but this is not common in the United States. \tContaminated knives, cutting boards, or other utensils. Kitchen utensils that come in contact with raw meat can harbor parasites unless the utensils are washed thoroughly in plenty of hot, soapy water. \tContaminated, unwashed fruits, and vegetables.\u00a0The surface of fruits and vegetables may contain traces of the parasite. To be safe, thoroughly wash all produce, especially any you eat raw. \tAn infected organ transplant or transfused blood.\u00a0In rare cases, toxoplasmosis can be transmitted through an organ transplant or blood transfusion. Immune response and immunopathology during toxoplasmosis If you have a strong immune system, you're not likely to experience any complications of toxoplasmosis, although otherwise healthy people sometimes develop eye infections. But if your immune system is compromised, especially as a result of HIV\/AIDS, toxoplasmosis can lead to seizures and life-threatening illnesses such as encephalitis \u2014 a serious brain infection. In people living with AIDS, untreated encephalitis resulting from toxoplasmosis is fatal. Relapse is a constant concern for immunocompromised people with Toxoplasma gondii. Children with congenital toxoplasmosis may develop disabling complications, including hearing loss, blindness and mental retardation. Without specific screening, it's often difficult to diagnose because signs and symptoms, when they occur, are similar to those of more common illnesses such as the flu and mononucleosis. Most healthy people don't require treatment. But if you're otherwise healthy and have signs and symptoms of acute toxoplasmosis, your doctor may prescribe the following drugs: Pyrimethamine (Daraprim) This antimalarial medication is also used to treat toxoplasmosis. It's a folic acid antagonist, which means it may prevent your body from absorbing the important B vitamin folate (folic acid, vitamin B-9), especially when you take high doses over a long period of time. For that reason, your doctor may recommend taking additional folic acid. Sulfadiazine This antibiotic is used in combination with pyrimethamine to treat toxoplasmosis. Toxoplasmosis During pregnancy If you're pregnant and currently infected with toxoplasmosis but your baby isn't affected, you may be given the antibiotic spiramycin. The use of this drug can reduce the likelihood that your baby will become infected, without posing a risk to you or your child. Although routinely used to treat toxoplasmosis in Europe, spiramycin is still considered an experimental drug in the United States. When tests indicate that your unborn child has toxoplasmosis, your doctor may suggest treatment with pyrimethamine and sulfadiazine. Because these drugs can have serious side effects for both women and babies, they're normally not used during pregnancy, but doctors sometimes prescribe them in extreme circumstances. Drug treatment can lessen the severity of congenital toxoplasmosis, but it won't undo any damage that's already been done.