Toxoplasmosis is a disease that is a result of an infection from the parasite Toxoplasma gondii. This is one of the world’s most common parasites. However, even though it is common, the majority of infected individuals have no signs or symptoms and do not need any treatment. Most commonly, this infection causes serious health problems in people with weakened immune systems or in infants whose mothers are infected during pregnancy. The organism resides in the intestines of many animals, particularly cats and infectious organisms are shed in cat feces and contaminate the water and soil.
Toxoplasmosis can be either acquired or congenital.
This occurs when the parasite is ingested into the body in some way. It most commonly happens by:
- Eating or consuming contaminated food and water.
- Cleaning a cat’s litter box: the parasite is often found in contaminated cat feces.
- Gardening: It is possible to ingest the parasite from contaminated cat feces when gardening
- Cross-contamination with unwashed knives or cutting boards.
- Blood transfusion or organ transplant
It is important to note that you cannot get this disease from a person who is already infected.
This happens when the infection is passed from a pregnant mother to her child. If the mother gets toxoplasmosis right before or during the pregnancy, then the child is at risk. Early infections can end in stillbirth or miscarriage. Infants who survive are likely to be born with problems like low birth weight, seizures, an enlarged liver, jaundice, and severe eye infections.
The majority of adults with toxoplasmosis do not have any symptoms in their body. In less than 20% of people, non-specific symptoms such as fever and malaise may occur. The parasite can infect the retina and lead to inflammation and scarring. In the acute phase of retinal infection several symptoms may be experienced including:
- Seeing Floaters in Your Vision
- Reduced Vision
- Eye Redness and Pain
- Sensitivity to Light
If you notice any of the above symptoms, get in touch with a medical professional for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.
The treatment for toxoplasmosis depends on severity of disorder and clinical presentation as well as threat to central vision. The treatment ranges from oral antibiotics and steroids to injection of medicine directly inside the eye.
Talk to your eye care specialist at Boston Vision to learn more about this parasite and how to avoid getting infected. If you are infected, we can help to find a treatment for you. To schedule your appointment, book online with us or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to get started.