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Toxoplasmosis

Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by a common parasite called Toxoplasma gondii, which can infect all mammal and bird species and is found throughout the world. Nearly all warm blooded animals can be infected with toxoplasma but cannot pass on the infection unless they enter the foodchain. It has been estimated that up to one billion of the world's human population has become infected with the parasite.

Most healthy people, who acquire toxoplasma infection do not experience any symptoms, however about 10-15% of people may develop a mild flu-like or glandular fever-like illness. The parasite can form microscopic cysts throughout the body where they remain for many years or decades. These cysts are believed not to pose any risk to people with healthy immune systems. There is some research suggesting possible links between toxoplasma infection and behavioural changes in mammalian hosts, including humans. However, there is insufficient evidence to draw any firm conclusions at this time.

Symptoms include blurred vision, and 'floaters' (dark spots that pass across your field of vision and move as you move your eye, they may look like clouds, spots, wavy lines or other shapes).

The parasite that causes toxoplasmosis can be found in the faeces of infected cats, and in the meat of infected animals.

Humans are infected with T. gondii by four major routes:
Swallowing water, food or soil contaminated with the faeces of infected cats
Transmission from a newly infected mother to the foetus
Swallowing or handling undercooked or raw meat (mainly pork or lamb) that contains the tissue cyst form of the parasite
Receiving organ transplants or, very rarely, blood products from donors very recently infected with toxoplasmosis
Other than from mother to foetus, direct human to human transmission has not been reported.

Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by a common parasite called Toxoplasma gondii, which can infect all mammal and bird species and is found throughout the world. Nearly all warm blooded animals can be infected with toxoplasma but cannot pass on the infection unless they enter the foodchain. It has been estimated that up to one billion of the world's human population has become infected with the parasite.

Most healthy people, who acquire toxoplasma infection do not experience any symptoms, however about 10-15% of people may develop a mild flu-like or glandular fever-like illness. The parasite can form microscopic cysts throughout the body where they remain for many years or decades. These cysts are believed not to pose any risk to people with healthy immune systems. There is some research suggesting possible links between toxoplasma infection and behavioural changes in mammalian hosts, including humans. However, there is insufficient evidence to draw any firm conclusions at this time.

Symptoms include blurred vision, and 'floaters' (dark spots that pass across your field of vision and move as you move your eye, they may look like clouds, spots, wavy lines or other shapes).

The parasite that causes toxoplasmosis can be found in the faeces of infected cats, and in the meat of infected animals.

Humans are infected with T. gondii by four major routes:
Swallowing water, food or soil contaminated with the faeces of infected cats
Transmission from a newly infected mother to the foetus
Swallowing or handling undercooked or raw meat (mainly pork or lamb) that contains the tissue cyst form of the parasite
Receiving organ transplants or, very rarely, blood products from donors very recently infected with toxoplasmosis
Other than from mother to foetus, direct human to human transmission has not been reported.

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