II. Epidemiology

  1. Immunocompetent patients (asymptomatic) Prevalence
    1. United States: 60 Million (11% of U.S. population over age 6 years old)
    2. Adolescents: 23% have Toxoplasmosis antibodies
    3. Young women: 15%
  2. Congenital Toxoplasmosis (Intrapartum exposure)
    1. Cases in U.S. per year: 400 to 4000
  3. HIV Patients
    1. Most common cause of cerebral mass lesions in HIV

III. Pathophysiology

  1. Intracellular coccidian protozoan
  2. Main host: Feidae family including domestic cats
    1. Small rodents become infected by ingesting oocysts
    2. Outdoor cats become infected by eating small rodents
    3. Cats pass oocysts in feces during acute infection
    4. Oocysts sporulate (infectious) in environment
    5. Oocysts infectious for >1 year in warm, moist soil
    6. Indoor cats not fed raw meat unlikely to be infected
    7. Serologic Testing of cats is not useful
  3. Stages of life cycle
    1. Tachyzoite (invade cells and replicate)
    2. Bradyzoite (dormant as tissue cysts)
    3. Sporozoite (oocysts in environment)
  4. Sites of infection (most common)
    1. Muscle
    2. Liver
    3. Spleen
    4. Lymph Nodes
    5. Central Nervous System
  5. Trasmission
    1. Raw or under-cooked meat (pork, lamb, deer, cattle, sheep, goats)
      1. May also me transmitted by contaminated utensils and cutting boards
      2. Responsible for 50% of cases in U.S.
    2. Vertical Transmission across placenta (intrapartum, congenital infection)
      1. Toxoplasmosis infection before conception
        1. Rare transmission unless Immunocompromised
      2. First trimester infection: 10-25% transmission
      3. Third trimester infection: 60-90% transmission
    3. Ingesting items contaminated with infected cat feces
      1. Incubation to infectious state requires >1 day
        1. Cats shed for weeks when newly infected
      2. Litter box exposure
      3. Gardening soil
      4. Unfiltered water
      5. Unwashed vegetables or fruits
    4. Blood-borne pathogen
      1. Blood Transfusion
      2. Organ Transplantation
  6. Incubation
    1. Under-cooked meat ingestion: 10-23 days
    2. Infected cat feces ingestion: 5-20 days
  7. Reactivation
    1. Organism stays remains inactive after infection until immunosupression
    2. Occurs only in immunosuppressed groups (e.g. HIV)
    3. CNS Infection is the most common site of reactivation
  8. HIV patients
    1. Reactivation of latent infection is common
    2. Cerebral infection occurs in 30-50% of patients with:
      1. Preexisting Antibody to Toxoplasmosis
      2. CD4 Counts <100 cells

IV. Presentation

  1. Immunocompetent patients
    1. Usually asymptomatic
    2. Generalized symptoms may be briefly present for 1-2 weeks (mild flu-like symptoms)
      1. Fever
      2. Malaise
      3. Myalgias
      4. Lymphadenopathy (cervical or occipital)
  2. Congenital Toxoplasmosis
    1. Often asymptomatic at birth
    2. Classic triad
      1. Chorioretinitis
      2. Hydrocephalus
      3. Intracranial calcifications
    3. General signs
      1. Jaundice
      2. Hepatosplenomegaly
      3. Lymphadenopathy
      4. Fever
      5. Anemia and Thrombocytopenia
      6. Ocular changes occur in 20-80% of cases (but may not minifest until adulthood)
        1. Chorioretinitis presents with Blurred Vision, Eye Pain, photophobia
  3. HIV patients (or otherwise immunosuppressed)
    1. Common
      1. Encephalitis (most common)
      2. Pneumonia
      3. Chorioretinitis
      4. Disseminated disease
    2. General Signs
      1. Fever
      2. Headache
      3. Seizure
      4. Cognitive Impairment is frequent presenting symptom
        1. Altered Mental Status (confusion)
        2. Altered behavior
      5. Focal neurologic deficit (60%)
        1. Hemiparesis
        2. Aphasia
        3. Ataxia or other altered coordination
        4. Visual Field defects
        5. Cranial Nerve palsies
        6. Tremor

V. Labs: Screening

  1. Indications
    1. HIV Infection or other Immunosuppression
    2. Pregnant women with suspected exposure
      1. Routine screening in pregnancy not recommended
  2. Diagnostic Tests (protocol for age over 1 year)
    1. Step 1: Serum IgG Toxoplasmosis antibodies (97%)
      1. If positive, go to Step 2
      2. Stop if IgG negative
      3. Positive within 1-2 weeks of infection
      4. Consider retest in 3 weeks if negative, equivocal
    2. Step 2: Serum IgM Toxoplasmosis antibodies
      1. If positive, go to Step 3
        1. May be positive up to 18 months after infection
        2. Confirm positive test with a reference lab
          1. Checks for False Positives
      2. If negative, infection occurred >6 months ago
    3. Step 3: Serum IgG Toxoplasmosis avidity status
      1. If low, go to Step 4
      2. If high, infected 12 weeks or longer ago
    4. Step 4: Resend IgG, IgM and avidity after 3 weeks
      1. Go back to Step 1 to interpret findings
      2. If still not diagnostic, go to Step 5
    5. Step 5: Advanced testing
      1. Toxoplasmosis PCR
      2. Toxoplasmosis differential Agglutination
      3. Serum Toxoplasmosis IgA
      4. Serum Toxoplasmosis IgE

VI. Labs: Other Testing

  1. Fetal testing (Congenital Toxoplasmosis)
    1. Amniocentesis for Toxoplasmosis PCR
    2. Risk of False Positive and False Negative tests
    3. May be performed as early as 18 weeks gestation
  2. Immunosuppressed Patients in whom Immunoglobulin testing may be unreliable
    1. Toxoplasmosis PCR
    2. Microscopy of blood, tissue biopsy or cerebrospinal fluid
  3. HIV patients with mass lesion
    1. Brain biopsy (confirms the diagnosis)
    2. False Negatives may occur

VII. Imaging: HIV patients (Head CT scan or Head MRI)

  1. Brain MRI is more sensitive
  2. Ring enhancing lesions on CT with contrast
  3. Multiple bilateral lesions
    1. Basal Ganglia
    2. Corticomedullary junction

VIII. Management: Pregnancy

  1. Active Toxoplasmosis infection in pregnancy
    1. Infection in first or second trimester
      1. Spiramycin (Rovamycine)
        1. Most effective if started within 8 weeks of seroconversion
        2. Continue through remainder of pregnancy if no fetal infection
    2. Infection in Third Trimester (or late second trimester)
      1. See triple protocol for fetal Toxoplasmosis as below
  2. Fetal Toxoplasmosis confirmed by Amniocentesis (or third trimester infection)
    1. General
      1. Use not recommended before 13-18 weeks
      2. Also indicated in third trimester maternal infection (without known fetal infection)
    2. Protocol
      1. Pyrimethamine (Daraprim) and
      2. Sulfadiazine and
      3. Folinic acid (leucovorin)
        1. Prevents marrow suppression of Pyrimethamine

IX. Management: Congenital Toxoplasmosis

  1. Treatment administered for 1 year
  2. Additional management needed for ocular infection
  3. Protocol
    1. Pyrimethamine (Daraprim) and
    2. Sulfadiazine and
    3. Folinic acid (leucovorin)

X. Management: HIV

  1. Most treatment started empirically
  2. Regimen (90% response rate in 1-2 weeks)
    1. Pyrimethamine and
    2. Sulfadiazine (or Clindamycin or Atovaquone)
    3. Folinic acid (Leucovorin)
  3. Drugs
    1. Pyrimethamine
      1. Initial Treatment: 200 mg orally for first dose
      2. Next
        1. Weight >60 kg: 75 mg orally daily
        2. Weight <60 kg: 50 mg orally daily
    2. Sulfadiazine
      1. Treatment Dose: 1.5 g (1.0 g if wt <60 kg) orally every 6 hours
    3. Clindamycin
      1. Indication: allergy to sulfadiazine
      2. Initial: 600 mg every 6 hours
    4. Folinic Acid (Leucovorin)
      1. Indication: Less pyrimethamine marrow suppression
      2. Dose: 10-25 mg orally daily
    5. Atovaquone
      1. Dose: 1500 mg orally twice daily
  4. Other medications: Corticosteroids
    1. Indication: severe cerebral edema
  5. Adverse Reactions (common) to treatment
    1. Neutropenia
    2. Rash
    3. Fever
    4. Renal Impairment
  6. Course
    1. Continue treatment until symptoms and imaging normal
    2. Continue low dose maintenance for patients life
      1. Pyrimethamine and sulfadiazine low dose daily

XI. Complications

  1. Congenital Toxoplasmosis (up to 80% of cases)
    1. Mental Retardation (may not be evident until school)
    2. Blindness
    3. Seizure Disorder
  2. HIV patients
    1. Seizures in a third of patients
    2. Coma is rare

XII. Prevention

  1. General Measures
    1. Peel or carefully wash all fruits and vegetables
    2. Fully cook all meats (especially beef, lamb, game)
    3. Carefully wash all items for preparing food
    4. Wear gloves when handling soil (i.e. gardening)
    5. Pet cat care
      1. Patients at risk should not change cat litter
        1. Immunosuppressed patients (e.g. HIV)
        2. Pregnant patients
      2. Wear gloves when changing cat litter
      3. Wash hands carefully after changing litter box
      4. Change litter daily (before infectious)
      5. Keep cat inside and avoid strays
      6. Use only commercial or cooked cat food
  2. HIV Patients: Toxoplasmosis Prophylaxis
    1. See Prevention of Secondary Infection in HIV
    2. Baseline toxoplasma Serology in all HIV patients
    3. Primary Prophylaxis is indicated if CD4 Count <100 cells/mm3 or if seropositive
      1. Trimethoprim-Sulfamethoxazole, Bactrim, or Septra DS daily (same as for Pneumocystis prophylaxis) or
      2. Dapsone and Pyrimethamine has also been used
    4. Chronic Suppression (Secondary Prophylaxis, until CD4 Count >200 for 6 months)
      1. Sulfadiazine 2-4 g/day orally divided bid to qid (or Clindamycin 600 mg every 8 hours) AND
      2. Pyrethamine 25-50 mg orally every 24 hours AND
      3. Folinic Acid 10-25 mg orally every 24 hours

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Related Studies

Ontology: Toxoplasma gondii (C0040557)

Definition (CSP) member of the Apicomplexa, is the sole species of Toxoplasma; members of the cat family (Felidae) are the definitive hosts; many mammals and birds serve as intermediate hosts; infection is contracted by ingesting either oocysts or meat containing live organisms.
Concepts Eukaryote (T204)
MSH D014122
SnomedCT 4649006
LNC LP14252-8, MTHU002070
Portuguese Toxoplasma gondii
French Toxoplasma gondii
German Toxoplasma gondii
English Toxoplasma gondius, gondii, Toxoplasma, gondius, Toxoplasma, gondii toxoplasma, toxoplasma gondii, TOXOPLASMA GONDII, Toxoplasma gondii (organism), Toxoplasma gondii
Czech Toxoplazma gondii, Toxoplasma gondii
Italian Toxoplasma gondii
Norwegian Toxoplasma gondii
Spanish Toxoplasma gondii (organismo), Toxoplasma gondii
Dutch Toxoplasma gondii

Ontology: Toxoplasmosis (C0040558)

Definition (CHV) an infection by a parasite called toxoplasma gondii
Definition (CHV) an infection by a parasite called toxoplasma gondii
Definition (MEDLINEPLUS)

Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by the parasite Toxoplasma gondii. More than 60 million people in the U.S. have the parasite. Most of them don't get sick. But the parasite causes serious problems for some people. These include people with weak immune systems and babies whose mothers become infected for the first time during pregnancy. Problems can include damage to the brain, eyes, and other organs.

You can get toxoplasmosis from

  • Waste from an infected cat
  • Eating contaminated meat that is raw or not well cooked
  • Using utensils or cutting boards after they've had contact with contaminated raw meat
  • Drinking infected water
  • Receiving an infected organ transplant or blood transfusion

Most people with toxoplasmosis don't need treatment. There are drugs to treat it for pregnant women and people with weak immune systems.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Definition (NCI) A parasitic disease contracted by the ingestion or fetal transmission of toxoplasma gondii.
Definition (CSP) acquired form of infection by Toxoplasma gondii in animals and man.
Definition (MSH) The acquired form of infection by Toxoplasma gondii in animals and man.
Concepts Disease or Syndrome (T047)
MSH D014123
ICD9 130.9, 130
ICD10 B58 , B58.9
SnomedCT 187192000, 9399000, 276203008, 266225001, 187200007, 187515009, 154423006
LNC LA10511-6
English Infection, Toxoplasma gondii, Infections, Toxoplasma gondii, Toxoplasma gondii Infection, Toxoplasma gondii Infections, Toxoplasmoses, Toxoplasmosis, TOXOPLASMOSIS, Toxoplasmosis NOS, Toxoplasmosis, unspecified, [X]Toxoplasmosis, unspecified, TOXOPLASMA GONDII INFECT, INFECT TOXOPLASMA GONDII, toxoplasmosis (diagnosis), toxoplasmosis, Infection by Toxoplasma gondii, Toxoplasmosis [Disease/Finding], toxoplasmoses, Infection by Toxoplasma gondii (disorder), Toxoplasma gondii infection, Toxoplasmosis NOS (disorder), Infection by toxoplasma gondii (disorder), Infection by toxoplasma gondii, [X]Toxoplasmosis, unspecified (disorder), Toxoplasmosis (disorder), disease (or disorder); toxoplasmosis, Toxoplasma gondii; infection, infection; Toxoplasma gondii, Infection by Toxoplasma gondii (disorder) [Ambiguous]
French TOXOPLASMOSE, Toxoplasmose SAI, Toxoplasmose, non précisée, Toxoplasmose, Infection à Toxoplasma gondii
Portuguese TOXOPLASMOSE, Toxoplasmose NE, Toxoplasmose, Infecção por Toxoplasma gondii
Spanish TOXOPLASMOSIS, Toxoplasmosis no especificada, Infección por toxoplasma gondii, Toxoplasmosis NEOM, infección por Toxoplasma gondii, infección por Toxoplasma gondii (trastorno), [X]toxoplasmosis, no especificada, toxoplasmosis, SAI, toxoplasmosis, SAI (trastorno), [X]toxoplasmosis, no especificada (trastorno), toxoplasmosis (concepto no activo), toxoplasmosis (trastorno), toxoplasmosis, Toxoplasmosis, Infección por Toxoplasma gondii
German TOXOPLASMOSE, Toxoplasmose NNB, Toxoplasmose, unspezifisch, Toxoplasma gondii-Infektion, Toxoplasmose, nicht naeher bezeichnet, Toxoplasmosen, Toxoplasma-gondii-Infektion, Toxoplasmose
Dutch toxoplasmose, niet-gespecificeerd, Toxoplasma gondii-infectie, toxoplasmose NAO, Toxoplasma gondii; infectie, aandoening; toxoplasmose, infectie; Toxoplasma gondii, Toxoplasmose, niet gespecificeerd, toxoplasmose, Toxoplasmose, Toxoplasma-gondii-infectie
Italian Toxoplasmosi, non specificata, Toxoplasmosi NAS, Infezione da toxoplasma gondii, Infezione da Toxoplasma gondii, Toxoplasmosi
Japanese トキソプラズマ症、詳細不明, トキソプラズマ感染, トキソプラズマ症NOS, トキソプラズマショウショウサイフメイ, トキソプラズマカンセン, トキソプラズマショウNOS, トキソプラズマショウ, トキソプラスマ原虫感染症, トキソプラズマ症, トキソプラスマ症
Swedish Toxoplasmos
Czech toxoplazmóza, Infekce Toxoplasma gondii, Toxoplazmóza NOS, Toxoplazmóza, Toxoplazmóza, blíže neurčená, infekce Toxoplasma gondii, Toxoplazma gondii - infekce, infekce Toxoplasmou gondii, toxoplasmósa, toxoplasmóza
Finnish Toksoplasmoosi
Korean 톡소포자충증, 상세불명의 톡소포자충증
Polish Toksoplazmoza
Hungarian toxoplasmosis, Toxoplasma gondii fertőzés, toxoplasmosis k.m.n., toxoplasmosis, nem meghatározott
Norwegian Toksoplasmose

Ontology: Toxoplasmosis, Congenital (C0040560)

Definition (NCI_FDA) Passed from mother to fetus.
Definition (MSH) Prenatal protozoal infection with TOXOPLASMA gondii which is associated with injury to the developing fetal nervous system. The severity of this condition is related to the stage of pregnancy during which the infection occurs; first trimester infections are associated with a greater degree of neurologic dysfunction. Clinical features include HYDROCEPHALUS; MICROCEPHALY; deafness; cerebral calcifications; SEIZURES; and psychomotor retardation. Signs of a systemic infection may also be present at birth, including fever, rash, and hepatosplenomegaly. (From Adams et al., Principles of Neurology, 6th ed, p735)
Concepts Disease or Syndrome (T047)
MSH D014125
ICD10 P37.1
SnomedCT 268875000, 157118007, 206335001, 73893000
English Congenital Toxoplasmoses, Congenital Toxoplasmosis, Toxoplasmoses, Congenital, Toxoplasmosis, Congenital, CONGEN INFECT TOXOPLASMA GONDII, CONGEN TOXOPLASMOSIS, CONGEN TOXOPLASMA INFECT, TOXOPLASMOSIS CONGEN, CONGEN TOXOPLASMA GONDII INFECT, TOXOPLASMA INFECT CONGEN, congenital toxoplasmosis, congenital toxoplasmosis (diagnosis), Congenital Infection, Toxoplasma gondii, Congenital Toxoplasma gondii Infection, Congenital Toxoplasma Infection, Congenital Toxoplasma Infections, Infection, Congenital Toxoplasma, Infections, Congenital Toxoplasma, Toxoplasma Infection, Congenital, Toxoplasma Infections, Congenital, Toxoplasmosis, Congenital [Disease/Finding], Toxoplasmosis;congenital, toxoplasmosis congenital, Toxoplasmosis - congen., CONGENITAL TOXOPLASMOSIS, TOXOPLASMOSIS, CONGENITAL, Congenital toxoplasmosis, Congenital toxoplasmosis (disorder), congenital; toxoplasmosis, toxoplasmosis; congenital
Swedish Toxoplasmos, medfödd
Japanese センテンセイトキソプラズマショウ, 先天性トキソプラズマ症, トキソプラスマ症-先天性, 先天性トキソプラスマ症, トキソプラズマ症-先天性
Finnish Synnynnäinen toksoplasmoosi
German Angeborene Toxoplasmose, kongenitale Toxoplasmose, Toxoplasmose, kongenitale, Kongenitale Infektion mit Toxoplasma gondii
Czech Vrozená toxoplazmóza, vrozená toxoplazmóza, kongenitální toxoplazmóza, toxoplazmóza vrozená, kongenitální toxoplasmóza
Italian Infezioni congenite da Toxoplasma, Infezione congenita da Toxoplasma gondii, Toxoplasmosi congenita
Korean 선천 톡소포자충증
Polish Wrodzone zakażenie Toxoplasma gondii, Toksoplazmoza wrodzona
Hungarian Veleszületett toxoplasmosis
Norwegian Medfødt toksoplasmose, Kongenital toksoplasmose, Kongenitt toksoplasmose
Dutch congenitaal; toxoplasmose, toxoplasmose; congenitaal, toxoplasmose, congenitaal, Aangeboren toxoplasmose, Congenitale Toxoplasma-gondii-infectie, Congenitale toxoplasmose, Toxoplasmose, aangeboren
Spanish toxoplasmosis congénita (trastorno), toxoplasmosis congénita, Toxoplasmosis congénita, Infección por Toxoplasma gondii Congénita, Toxoplasmosis Congénita
Portuguese Toxoplasmose congénita, Infecção por Toxoplasma gondii Congênita, Toxoplasmose Congênita
French Toxoplasmose congénitale, Infection congénitale à Toxoplasma gondii