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Toxoplasmosis is a very common disease caused by a parasite. You can have toxoplasmosis and have no symptoms. If you’re pregnant, it can harm your baby.

What causes toxoplasmosis?

Toxoplasmosis is caused by a parasite, Toxoplasma gondii. You can get it from:

  • eating or handling raw or undercooked meat
  • not washing your hands after gardening
  • handling contaminated soil, water or unwashed fruit or vegetables
  • contact with cat faeces

Toxoplasmosis symptoms

You can have toxoplasmosis and have no symptoms.

You might feel like you have the flu, with fever, swollen glands, headaches, fatigue or muscle pains. It can last for months.

Some people get seriously ill with it. It can affect their eyes, brain or other organs.

If it affects your eyes, you might notice your vision is blurry or that your eyes are red, sore or watering.

If have a weakened immune system or are pregnant the effects to you or your baby are more likely to be serious.

If you’re pregnant, or have immune problems, or have severe symptoms and think you may have toxoplasmosis, you should see your doctor immediately.

What to do if you're pregnant

If you’re pregnant, you need to be careful to reduce your risks of getting toxoplasmosis. It can lead to an infection causing your problems for your baby’s hearing, eyesight or thinking.

Read more about toxoplasmosis in pregnancy.

Toxoplasmosis treatment

A blood test will show if you have toxoplasmosis.

If you’re pregnant or unwell, your doctor might recommend medicine. Otherwise, you will usually not need treatment.

Toxoplasmosis prevention

The best ways to prevent toxoplasmosis is to cook meat and poultry well and to be careful about hygiene.

Carefully wash your hands:

  • before and after handling food
  • after gardening
  • after handling a cat or kitty litter

You can also prevent infection by wearing gloves when gardening and, if you have a cat, changing the kitty litter twice a day.

Toxoplasmosis can be reactivated if you’ve ever had it.

You can ask your doctor about tests to check if you've had toxoplasmosis and medicine to stop it reactivating.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: February 2018

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