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Food Poisoning: Toxoplasmosis - Topic Overview

How is it treated?

In an otherwise healthy person who is not pregnant, treatment is not needed. Symptoms will usually go away within a few weeks.

For pregnant women or people who have weakened immune systems, medicines are available to treat toxoplasmosis. For more information, see the topic Toxoplasmosis During Pregnancy.

How can I prevent toxoplasmosis?

Because toxoplasmosis usually has no symptoms or only mild symptoms, most people don't need to worry about getting it. But if you have a weakened immune system or are pregnant, you should take steps to prevent toxoplasmosis.

  • Wear gloves when you garden or do anything outdoors that involves handling soil. Cats may pass the parasite in their feces and often use gardens and sandboxes as litter boxes. Wash your hands well with soap and warm water after outdoor activities, especially before you eat or prepare any food.
  • Have someone who is healthy and not pregnant handle raw meat for you. If this is not possible, wear clean latex gloves when you touch raw meat, and wash cutting boards, sinks, knives, and other utensils that might have touched the raw meat. Wash your hands well with soap and warm water afterwards.
  • Cook foods until they are well done. Use a meat thermometer to be sure foods are cooked to a safe temperature. Do not use the color of the meat (such as when it is no longer "pink") to tell you that it is done.
  • Have someone who is healthy and not pregnant change your cat's litter box. If this is not possible, wear gloves and clean the litter box daily. Wash your hands well with soap and warm water afterwards.

What can you tell me about my cat and toxoplasmosis?

Cats only spread Toxoplasma gondii in their feces for a few weeks after they are first infected with the parasite. They rarely have symptoms when first infected, so most people don't know whether their cat has been exposed to Toxoplasma gondii. Good tests are not available to determine whether your cat is passing Toxoplasma gondii in its feces.

Otherwise healthy people should not worry about their cat and Toxoplasma gondii. But if you have an impaired immune system or are pregnant:

  • Help prevent your cat from getting infected with Toxoplasma gondii. Keep the cat indoors, and feed it dry or canned cat food. Cats can become infected by eating or being fed raw or undercooked meat.
  • Don't bring a new cat into your house that might have been an outdoor cat or might have been fed raw meat.
  • Avoid handling stray cats and kittens.

Your veterinarian can answer other questions you may have about your cat and the risk for toxoplasmosis.


WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: October 18, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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