TOXOPLASMOSIS In Humans - What Is It, Symptoms And Treatment

Table of contents:

TOXOPLASMOSIS In Humans - What Is It, Symptoms And Treatment
TOXOPLASMOSIS In Humans - What Is It, Symptoms And Treatment

Video: TOXOPLASMOSIS In Humans - What Is It, Symptoms And Treatment

Video: TOXOPLASMOSIS In Humans - What Is It, Symptoms And Treatment
Video: Toxoplasmosis | Acquired vs Congenital | Signs, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment 2023, December

The main symptoms of toxoplasmosis in humans


  • 1 Etiology
  • 2 Ways of infection
  • 3 What is the danger of toxoplasmosis for humans
  • 4 Classification of toxoplasmosis, characteristic symptoms

    • 4.1 Toxoplasmosis congenital, symptoms
    • 4.2 Toxoplasmosis acquired, symptoms
  • 5 Symptoms of acquired chronic toxoplasmosis

    • 5.1 Toxoplasmosis in children, symptoms
    • 5.2 Toxoplasmosis in pregnant women, symptoms
  • 6 Toxoplasmosis in men
  • 7 Toxoplasmosis in women
  • 8 How to identify toxoplasmosis in humans
  • 9 How is toxoplasmosis treated in humans
  • 10 How not to get infected with toxoplasmosis, preventive measures

Toxoplasmosis is a common parasitic disease. And although the nature of this disease is known, all information has been obtained about the source of infection, how the microorganism multiplies, how it enters the human body, methods of treatment and prevention, there are no fewer patients on different continents. The reason, most likely, is the low education of the population and the asymptomatic course of the disease.




What is toxoplasmosis? The causative agent of toxoplasmosis is the pathogen Toxoplasma gondii, an intracellular parasite of the smallest size, outwardly resembling a microscopic orange slice, up to 7 microns in size. The entire life cycle of Toxoplasma is divided into two stages: the first, sexual, takes place in the body of representatives of the feline family, the second, asexual, in the body of any warm-blooded mammal, animal or bird. Toxoplasma gondii can be in three infectious stages: tachyzoid, bradyzoite and sporozoite (formed from oocysts).

Once in a warm-blooded organism, the pathogen invades the cells and forms vacuoles between the cells. Bradyzoites are located inside these vacuoles. Tissue cysts are gradually formed, they can affect all internal organs. Their greatest accumulation is found in the nerve and muscle tissues, in the organs of vision, heart muscles, in the brain tissues. Toxoplasma gondii is hidden in the cell itself, so the immune system of the infected organism, if the cyst is intact, cannot recognize it.

The parasite reproduces by simply dividing in two inside the vacuoles, this process takes a long time and when the cell bursts, the tachyzoites fall outside. These microorganisms are asexual and can reproduce asexually. The immune system recognizes them and produces antibodies. It is quite difficult to remove the infection, since tachyzoites are able to infect cells and form bradyzoites. But the human immune system produces antibodies against this parasite.

Infection routes


Everyone should know how to get infected with toxoplasmosis. The parasite enters the cat by ingesting any form of Toxoplasma gondii. In the epithelium of the small intestine, the microorganism begins to multiply, forming oocysts, which then come out with feces. The period of spread of the infection from the moment it enters the cat's body takes a different time: when swallowing bradyzoites - 3 - 10 - days, tachyzoites and oocysts - about 18 days. The viability of the parasite in the external environment is maintained for one and a half to two years.

Oocysts can enter the human body through contact with a cat, less often a dog, with unwashed fruits; a person can swallow tissue cysts with poorly processed meat (pork, rabbits, poultry, beef, lamb). You can get infected through sexual contact, but such cases are very rare.

In meat products, Toxoplasma cysts persist for about a month, but during heat treatment and deep freezing they lose their viability. Getting through the stomach into the intestines, the parasites through the blood penetrate into all tissues. All this happens asymptomatically, and even in the acute form of the disease, the patient does not feel pronounced symptoms. Flu-like symptoms may appear. The acute stage lasts from a week to several months, then turning into a chronic form.

Why is toxoplasmosis dangerous for humans

Cultural and gastronomic habits and lifestyle largely influence the spread of T. gondii infection. The statistics say the following:

  • 84% of pregnant women living in France are infected with the parasite;
  • 32% of the total population of New York and 22% in London are carriers of the infection;
  • Africa, Latin America account for 90%;
  • In Europe and North America, 25 to 30% of the population is infected;
  • In Russia, the figure is the same as in Europe - 30%.

If the cause of diseases in North America and Europe is in the gustatory habits, consumption of raw or lightly fried meat, then in the countries of Africa and Latin America - in unsanitary conditions.

Despite the fact that the disease is not dangerous for a healthy person, pregnant women and people with weakened immunity are at risk. Toxoplasmotic encephalitis can develop in immunocompromised patients, which can be fatal.

When infected with a parasite during pregnancy, fetal freezing and spontaneous abortion can occur, and the pathogen can also cause intracranial calcification in the fetus and problems with the vessels and retina of the eye.

Classification of toxoplasmosis, characteristic symptoms

This disease is variable and can manifest itself in different ways, it all depends on the organs infected with toxoplasma. Each species has its own characteristic symptoms. Therefore, there is no clear symptomatology for this disease. According to clinical manifestations, toxoplasmosis can occur in an acute, chronic and latent form. In the acute form, it is extremely rare, only 0.3% of those infected, regardless of the type, have a high temperature of up to 40 degrees, severe headache, and convulsions. You must immediately see a doctor in order to make a correct diagnosis.


The acute form is observed in patients with reduced immunity, while they have an extensive "bouquet" of other ailments. In the risk category, people with HIV infection, oncology, and viral diseases are in first place. Exacerbations of toxoplasmosis can occur after chemotherapy, transplant surgeries. All of these diseases, procedures and specific treatments negatively affect the immune system. When infected with toxoplasmosis in such patients, toxoplasmosis itself proceeds in an acute form, and old diseases are exacerbated.

In people with strong immunity, the body copes on its own, starting to produce antibodies, creating immunity to a specific pathogen. In most cases, toxoplasmosis occurs in a chronic form, in which there are no symptoms. Different symptoms of toxoplasmosis in humans can be in congenital form and acquired.

Congenital toxoplasmosis, symptoms


Congenital toxoplasmosis

This form of the disease occurs in the case of a transplacental lesion, when a woman, being pregnant, becomes infected with toxoplasmosis. According to statistics, when the mother is infected, the fetus in 30 - 40% will also be infected. This disease is diagnosed based on the results of serological tests. The disease is especially dangerous for the fetus in the last months of pregnancy. Although the baby may be born prematurely, there may be no significant symptoms at birth. A newborn may develop the following symptoms of toxoplasmosis over time:

  • Jaundice;
  • Skin rashes;
  • Enlargement of the liver and spleen;
  • Inflammation of the walls of the alveoli;
  • Myocarditis;
  • Strabismus;
  • Developmental defects.

When the pathogen is affected by the nervous system, the child is diagnosed with chorioretinitis, inflammation of the choroid of the eyes and retina, hydrocephalus, dropsy of the brain, and intracranial calcifications. These three diseases directly indicate toxoplasmosis.

Acquired toxoplasmosis, symptoms

Symptoms for acquired toxoplasmosis are varied; in the acute course of the disease, five clinical forms with pronounced symptoms are distinguished:

  1. Lymphoglandular, manifests itself in an increase in lymph nodes, spleen, liver, the patient is worried about a febrile state, according to analyzes, lymphocytosis and monocytosis are noted in the blood. This form of toxoplasmosis is more common in children and adolescents.
  2. Ophthalmic, characterized by an acute form of conjunctivitis, inflammation of the retina. The disease is dangerous with loss of vision.
  3. Exatemic, the patient has increased lymph nodes, after 5-7 days maculopapular rashes appear, which disappear after two weeks. All this is accompanied by high fever, chills. A sharp intoxication of the body occurs. Against the background of toxoplasmosis, myocarditis and pneumonia are diagnosed.
  4. Cerebral, in which the brain is affected. The disease is accompanied by a high fever.
  5. Visceral, the cardiovascular system, respiratory organs, liver are affected. Myocarditis, pneumonia, hepatitis are noted.

Acquired chronic toxoplasmosis symptoms

A person with a chronic form of toxoplasmosis has a prolonged increase in temperature, he is worried about muscle pain, his head often hurts for no reason and angina is worried. Among the neuropsychiatric symptoms, paralysis and convulsions are noted. Neuroendocrine manifestations include dysfunction of the pituitary and thyroid gland, impaired vision. Against the background of chronic toxoplasmosis, diseases such as pneumonia, myocarditis occur, and the spleen enlarges.

Toxoplasmosis in children, symptoms

If a child is healthy, his immune system is able to resist toxoplasma itself. When parasites enter the body of a healthy child, they are covered with a membrane that blocks the further development of Toxoplasma. Symptoms in children are practically not pronounced, there are almost no complications, and the pathogen does not threaten the child's life in any way.

The disease is expressed differently in its acute stage. Symptoms of the acute course of the disease are as follows:

  • Fever
  • Problems in the liver and spleen, against the background of which jaundice develops;
  • Fatigue, lethargy;
  • Skin rashes;
  • Lymph nodes are enlarged;
  • Vision problems.

Toxoplasmosis in pregnant women, symptoms

The pathogen Toxoplasma gondii is more dangerous to the fetus than to the pregnant woman herself. This infection is transmitted in utero. What symptoms should alert the expectant mother:

  • Fatigue;
  • Headache;
  • Drowsiness;
  • Prolonged elevated temperature;
  • There is an increase in lymph nodes;
  • Joint and muscle pains disturb.

For any symptomatology, a woman should immediately visit a doctor. The patient will be prescribed treatment or advised to terminate the pregnancy.

Toxoplasmosis in men

Toxoplasma can affect all ages, including the fetus. In men and women, the disease can proceed in slightly different ways and have its consequences. The incubation period for pathogenic infection lasts 3 - 14 days. In this case, no symptoms bother. In rare cases, lymph nodes may be enlarged and a skin rash may appear. A man should be on his guard if he notices the yellowness of the skin. Toxoplasmosis occurs in three forms: acute, chronic whether to be acquired.

The disease begins with an acute course and becomes chronic. Symptoms include:

  • Lethargic state;
  • Drowsiness;
  • Unreasonable headaches;
  • Loss of appetite.

If the parasite is infected with muscle tissue, a man may notice muscle pain. If the immune system is weakened, a man against the general background of the disease may develop prostatitis, adenoma, disturbed by cystitis, which in turn leads to the loss of male functions.

Toxoplasmosis in women

This pathogen is dangerous especially for pregnant women and for women planning pregnancy. A strong organism is able to cope with the infection on its own by developing antibodies. If Toxoplasma enters a weak organism, it begins to multiply at lightning speed, and it will be almost impossible to remove the parasite. The risk group includes women:

  • Immunocompromised;
  • With oncological diseases;
  • With the presence of infectious diseases;
  • After taking antibiotics;
  • After chemotherapy;
  • After surgical interventions;
  • With a disturbed hormonal background;
  • Leading an inactive lifestyle;
  • With chronic diseases;
  • During pregnancy;
  • During adolescence;
  • Abusers of bad habits;
  • After taking hormonal medications, including contraceptives;
  • With HIV infection;
  • Living in areas of high radiation;
  • Working in hazardous enterprises.

We repeat that toxoplasmosis is very dangerous for the fetus. Women planning to become pregnant must undergo a medical examination. If a woman is diagnosed with a chronic form of toxoplasmosis, she will be prescribed treatment, it must be completed, even if no symptoms are found.

How to identify toxoplasmosis in humans


Diagnosis of toxoplasmosis

Diagnosis for the presence of toxoplasma in the body consists in an extended clinical study. The doctor prescribes a series of laboratory tests: serological tests and allergy tests. When serological research is carried out: the reaction of binding a compliment, hemagglutination. Immunofluorescence analysis and intradermal toxoplasmin tests are done.

There are a number of diagnostic methods, the most reliable is the enzyme immunoassay. The presence of a pathogen, the presence of antibodies (immunoglobulins) and their quantity are determined. If such antibodies appeared as the body's response to Toxoplasma, they persist throughout life. Antibodies can be early, IgM, they are produced in the first year after infection, then they disappear, instead of them IgG antibodies appear, which are present throughout life. Using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, the doctor can determine how long ago the patient was infected and how much antibodies are present in his body.

If late antibodies and early antibodies are detected at the same time, a repeated analysis is prescribed after 14 days. This indicates that a person was infected not so long ago and an intensive development of immunity occurs.

It is important to investigate the epidemiological prerequisites: the presence of infected animals, the consumption of large amounts of meat products with insufficient heat treatment, how hygiene standards are observed, and the particulars of the profession.

All of the above methods are applicable for the acquired form of toxoplasmosis. If a diagnosis of a disease in a newborn is carried out, then first of all, the mother's history, data of serological reactions are studied.

How is toxoplasmosis treated in humans


Toxoplasmosis treatment

What treatment method to choose for toxoplasmosis, the doctor decides after all clinical studies. Therapy at different stages of the disease is different. If a patient is diagnosed with a chronic form, no special treatment is prescribed. Treatment of toxoplasmosis is prescribed for acute acquired. Special complex therapy is being developed for congenital toxoplasmosis.

If a person has become infected with the Toxoplasma gondii parasite, he is prescribed:

  • Antiparasitic drugs;
  • Means that strengthen the immune system (immunomodulators);
  • For the normal functioning of the intestine, prebiotics;
  • Targeted drugs to maintain the function of affected tissues;
  • Chemotherapy (in exceptional cases).

In children, the disease is treated according to a similar scheme, the dosage of drugs is calculated according to the age and severity of toxoplasmosis.

In the complex treatment of Toxoplasma, a technique is used in which drugs are prescribed in several courses at a certain interval. In this case, the combinations of drugs are often changed in order to affect the pathogen in a versatile manner and to exclude addiction in the parasite. Appointment of drugs of different effects and pharmacological composition allows minimizing complications from taking antiparasitic drugs.

A special treatment for toxoplasmosis is prescribed during pregnancy. It is impossible to ignore taking medications prescribed by your doctor. But such treatment is prescribed only from 12 to 14 weeks, early intake of antibiotics can negatively affect the development of the fetus. Unfortunately, treatment during pregnancy reduces the effects of Toxoplasma infection, but does not guarantee complete recovery. In most cases, a baby is born with vision problems and possible brain damage. Nature is smart, such pregnancies in most cases end in spontaneous miscarriage.

It is comforting that such a problem occurs only during the first pregnancy; all subsequent children will be affected by my mother's immunity. That is why doctors recommend terminating such a pregnancy.

If the pathogen Toxoplasma gondii is found in a person, the use of antiparasitic agents is also prescribed to pets.

How not to get infected with toxoplasmosis, preventive measures

Preventive measures follow from the above-described infection options. To avoid infection with parasites, and not only toxoplasma, you must:

  • Do not eat raw or poorly cooked (fried) meat, subject meat products to prolonged heat treatment;
  • Do not remove the sample from raw minced meat;
  • Wash hands thoroughly using soap after gardening and after touching raw meat;
  • Wash all products (fruits, vegetables, meat, eggs, herbs, etc.);
  • Observe hygiene after playing with pets;
  • Timely treat cuts with antiseptics;
  • Examine pets for worms, periodically give them antiparasitic drugs, disinfect their toilets;
  • Prevent your cat or dog from sleeping on the bed.

Special attention is paid to children's sandboxes; cats especially like to use these places as a toilet. In kindergartens, the sand is constantly examined for the presence of parasites by the sanitary services. To prevent cat feces from getting into the sandpit, it is recommended to cover them with plastic or wooden bars, and disinfect the sand.

In conclusion, let us summarize: what is known about toxoplasmosis, how is the infection with toxoplasmosis, which doctor to contact, how the disease is treated.

  • You can become infected with the parasite through contact with animals, especially with a cat, through the consumption of raw or poorly processed meat and very rarely through sexual contact, as well as in case of lack of hygiene;
  • The human body is able to fight the pathogen itself, producing antibodies (people with weakened immunity, HIV, pregnant women get into the risk zone);
  • If there is a suspicion of infection, it is necessary to consult an infectious disease doctor who will prescribe clinical studies;
  • Treatment in most cases of acquired toxoplasmosis is not prescribed, the exception is the course of the disease in an acute form.

And most importantly, simple preventive measures will significantly reduce the possibility of infection with the Toxoplasma gondii parasite.