Toxoplasmosis Symptoms List

Toxoplasmosis symptoms are rarely evident in otherwise healthy cats or people. Check this list if you suspect infection, or if you or your cat are at high risk. How do you know if you're at high risk? Read on...

Toxoplasmosis Risk Factors: Humans

If you are in a high risk group, you are more likely to develop toxoplasmosis symptoms should you become infected. In the case of toxoplasmosis and pregnancy, pregnant women can transmit the disease to the unborn child (preventing congenital toxoplasmosis).

Here are some of the high risk groups:

  • Those with compromised immune systems
  • People with AIDS/HIV
  • People on chemotherapy
  • The elderly
  • Anyone born with congenital immune deficiencies
  • Pregnant women (risk of congenital toxoplasmosis)
  • People who have received organ or bone marrow transplants

Toxoplasmosis Symptoms: Humans

If one does experience toxoplasmosis symptoms, they can resemble the "flu," and can be either mild or severe. Such as:

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Swollen lymph glands
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Generally feeling unwell
  • Inflammation of the lungs
  • Inflammation of the heart muscle
  • Eye problems, such as blurred or loss of vision
  • Occasional sore throat

Those who have compromised immune systems can develop symptoms of severe toxoplasmosis infection:

  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Poor coordination
  • Seizures
  • Severe lung problems
  • Severe inflammation of the retina (ocular toxoplasmosis)

Toxoplasmosis Pregnancy Issues

If you're pregnant and catch toxoplasmosis, there is a possibility that you will pass the infection on to the developing fetus as congenital toxoplasmosis. (Symptoms of toxoplasmosis in pregnant women are often the same as those in an otherwise healthy person. The exception to this is the possibility of miscarriage.)

The Centers for Disease Control tell us that only between 1 and 10 in 10,000 babies get toxoplasmosis in the U.S. each year. The earlier in your pregnancy you contract the disease, the less risk there is that you will transmit it to your baby, but the more serious the disease will be for the baby if you do!

In addition, some sources say that toxoplasmosis infections that occur up to six months prior to pregnancy can put the pregnancy at risk.

Some children born with congenital toxoplasmosis show signs of infection either at birth, or within the first month or so of life. Many, however, may not develop signs until months or years later!

Toxoplasmosis Symptoms and Signs: Congenital Toxoplasmosis

  • Premature birth
  • Unusually small at birth
  • Fever
  • Swollen glands
  • Jaundice (yellowed skin and eyes due to abnormal liver function)
  • Retinal damage
  • Nervous system disorders
  • Seizures
  • Poor muscle tone
  • Difficulty feeding
  • Hearing loss
  • Mental retardation
  • An unusually large or small head
  • Rash
  • Bruises or bleeding under the skin
  • Anemia
  • Enlarged liver or spleen

A child born with congenital toxoplasmosis typically receives treatment with antibiotics for at least a year. A child whose treatment is neglected during infancy will almost always have some sign of congenital toxoplasmosis (often eye damage) by adolescence.

Toxoplasmosis Risk Factors: Feline

Your cat is in a high risk group for contracting toxoplasmosis if:

  • Your cat hunts or roams outdoors
  • Your cat eats raw or undercooked meat
  • Infected with feline leukemia virus (FeLV)
  • Infected with feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV)

Toxoplasmosis Symptoms: Feline

Toxoplasmosis in cats typically produces no symptoms. If symptoms are present, however, they present like this:

  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • are typical early nonspecific signs.
  • Pneumonia
  • Hepatitis, which may cause:
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Prostration
  • Jaundice
  • Inflammation of the pancreas
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Eye problems and central nervous system disorders leading to:
  • Inflammation of the retina or anterior ocular chamber
  • Abnormal pupil size and responsiveness to light
  • blindness
  • Incoordination
  • Hypersensitivity to touch
  • Personality changes
  • Circling
  • Head pressing
  • Twitching of the ears
  • Difficulty in chewing and swallowing
  • Seizures
  • Loss of control over urination and defecation

As you can see, toxoplasmosis symptoms, in both cats and humans, range from none at all to extremely severe. This depends upon the circumstances under which the disease is contracted, the patient's immune system, and what form the disease takes.

More Information:

The Cornell Feline Health Center has a brochure on this disease.

The National Institutes of Health website has more information as well.

The cat illness symptoms guide

More than 70 cat illness warning signs

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