Toxoplasmosis

Increased risk from toxoplasmosis

A third of all humans carry the parasite that causes toxoplasmosis—a disease commonly associated with cats, HIV-AIDS patients and pregnant women—with scientists long believing healthy immune systems control the parasite ...

Feb 25, 2015
popularity5 comments 0

Toxoplasmosis is a parasitic disease caused by the protozoan Toxoplasma gondii. The parasite infects most genera of warm-blooded animals, including humans, but the primary host is the felid (cat) family. Animals are infected by eating infected meat, by ingestion of feces of a cat that has itself recently been infected, or by transmission from mother to fetus. Cats are the primary source of infection to human hosts, although contact with raw meat, especially pork, is a more significant source of human infections in some countries. Fecal contamination of hands is a significant risk factor.

Over half of the world's human population is estimated to carry a Toxoplasma infection. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that overall seroprevalence in the United States as determined with specimens collected by the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (NHANES) between 1999 and 2004 was found to be 10.8%, with seroprevalence among women of childbearing age (15 to 44 years) 11%.

During the first few weeks post-exposure, the infection typically causes a mild flu-like illness or no illness. Thereafter, the parasite rarely causes any symptoms in otherwise healthy adults. However, those with a weakened immune system, such as AIDS patients or pregnant women, may become seriously ill, and it can occasionally be fatal. The parasite can cause encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) and neurologic diseases, and can affect the heart, liver, inner ears, and eyes (chorioretinitis). Recent research has also linked toxoplasmosis with brain cancer, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and Schizophrenia.

This text uses material from Wikipedia licensed under CC BY-SA

Latest Spotlight News

Knowing one's place in a social hierarchy

When you start a new job, it's normal to spend the first day working out who's who in the pecking order, information that will come in handy for making useful connections in the future. In an fMRI study published December ...

Deep brain stimulation may not boost memory

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) of areas in the brain known to be involved in making memories does not improve memory performance, according to a study by Columbia University researchers published December 7 in Neuron. The study ...

TET proteins drive early neurogenesis

The fate of stem cells is determined by series of choices that sequentially narrow their available options until stem cells' offspring have found their station and purpose in the body. Their decisions are guided in part by ...