Toxoplasmosis is an infectious disease caused by parasites, which is particularly dangerous for pregnant women. Everything for infection and therapy!


toxoplasmosis is an infectious disease caused by parasites, which is widespread worldwide. For the pathogens, man is only an intermediate host; Endwirt are cats. The toxoplasmosis transmission occurs mainly via raw and insufficiently heated meat products as well as through contact with contaminated food or soil. Mostly the infection causes no complaints. Especially in immune-compromised and pregnant women but the toxoplasmosis can be serious. Read all about toxoplasmosis and how you can protect yourself against the disease.

ICD codes for this disease: ICD codes are internationally valid medical diagnosis codes. They are found e.g. in doctor's letters or on incapacity certificates. P37B58

Product Overview


  • description

  • symptoms

  • Causes and risk factors

  • Examinations and diagnosis

  • treatment

  • Disease course and prognosis

Toxoplasmosis: description

Toxoplasmosis is an infectious disease caused by the parasite Toxoplasma gondii is caused. Actually, it is an animal disease (zoonosis), which man "captures" only as an intermediate host of the parasite.

Infection with toxoplasmosis is common and can affect people of all ages. It usually goes unnoticed, but can also cause discomfort. In people with weakened immune systems, toxoplasmosis can be serious. The same applies to a primary infection during pregnancy. Read more in the article Toxoplasmosis - Pregnancy.

Toxoplasmosis: frequency

It is estimated that about half of the population in Germany has a toxoplasmosis infection behind them. However, this rate is likely to be lower in women of childbearing potential. However, as with other population groups, it increases with age. Thus, in almost 70 percent of over 50-year-old antibodies can be detected as a sign of a persistent toxoplasmosis infection. They give the person a lifelong immunity against the parasite, if no immunodeficiency occurs later.

Toxoplasmosis - pregnancy

If you have a primary infection during pregnancy, toxoplasmosis can have serious consequences. Read more in the article Toxoplasmosis - Pregnancy.

Toxoplasmosis: symptoms

The time between infection with toxoplasmosis and the onset of the first symptoms (incubation period) is several days to three weeks.

Toxoplasmosis symptoms in a healthy immune system

In people with a healthy immune system, toxoplasmosis is symptom-free in about nine out of ten cases. Rarely, the infection causes flu-like symptoms such as mild fever, head and body aches and fatigue. Also lymph node swelling (especially in the neck and neck area) are possible. Physicians then speak of lymph node toxoplasmosis.

Very rarely, the toxoplasmosis affects eyes or other organs. This can lead to inflammation of the middle skin of the eye (uveitis), pericarditis (pericarditis), inflammatory changes in the lungs (pneumonitis) or liver inflammation (hepatitis).

A toxoplasmosis infection can also be chronic, but in most cases it will not be noticed.

Toxoplasmosis symptoms in weakened immune system

In people with immunodeficiency - such as HIV and AIDS patients and transplant patients - toxoplasmosis may be severe. Mostly it comes to an infestation of the brain (cerebral toxoplasmosis) with the formation of numerous brain abscesses. For example, they can lead to headache, fever, personality changes, paralysis, and epileptic seizures.

Toxoplasmosis can affect many other organs, such as the heart, lungs or liver, especially in AIDS patients.

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Toxoplasmosis: causes and risk factors

Toxoplasmosis is caused by the unicellular parasite Toxoplasma gondii caused. Humans serve the parasite only as an intermediate host (as well as pigs and cattle); the main hosts are cats and feline predators.

In the intestine of the cat, the parasite multiplies and develops egg-like precursors (oocysts), which are excreted in large numbers via the faeces. After one to four days of ripening in the air, the oocysts become infective and remain so for several months.

routes of infection

Mammals, birds and humans are usually infected with contaminated food with the toxoplasmosis pathogen: The eggs of the parasite are taken up mainly with insufficiently heated or raw meat or sausage products, especially with pork, sheep and goat meat, but also with game and poultry. Even the one-off tasting of raw meat dishes is sufficient for infection with toxoplasmosis!

Even foods that grow in the soil or near the ground (vegetables, fruits) may be contaminated with the toxoplasma eggs (such as cat feces) and thus be infectious. In addition, a smear infection is possible, so the direct transmission of Toxoplasmen, such as when you contact after direct contact with cats or their excrement (cat litter) with unwashed hands to the mouth.

Relatively rarely, the womb parasites are transferred from the woman to the unborn child when the woman first became infected with the toxoplasmosis pathogen during pregnancy.

Another relatively rare infection pathway is parasite transmission during transplantation - in other words, when a patient is transferred the organs of a donor suffering from toxoplasmosis.

Toxoplasmosis: examinations and diagnosis

The above symptoms can give a doctor first indications of a possible infection with Toxoplasma. To clarify the suspicion, various diagnostic methods are available:

Toxoplasmosis: test for antibodies

Patients with a healthy immune system are usually sampled for blood testing for their body's own antibodies (antibodies) to toxoplasma. Depending on the type and amount of antibodies can be determined whether the person was previously infected with toxoplasmosis or whether it is a current infection and if so, at what stage the disease is.

Toxoplasmosis: direct detection of the pathogen or its genome

To determine an active infection beyond doubt, the pathogen itself or its genome (DNA) must be detected. In addition, this diagnostic pathway is primarily for patients with weakened immune systems, as they may be negative for the toxoplasmosis test for antibodies.

The direct pathogen detection can be done by cultivation in cell culture or animal experiment. In order to detect the genetic material of the parasite, tissue samples or body fluids of the patient are examined (by polymerase chain reaction, PCR).

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    Salmonella: Blind passengers on the eggshell

    Everyone knows Salmonella: You will find them mainly on eggs, more rarely on raw poultry or pork. It becomes dangerous if they get into foods such as mayonnaise or tiramisu - for example, because the egg contents are too much in contact with the peels when they are whipped up. If the delicious things then remain uncooled, the bacteria multiply rapidly. Anyone who costs from germ-infested food must expect diarrhea and vomiting.

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    Clostridia: Deadly danger from the rifle

    Clostridia do not like oxygen - that's why they multiply in hermetically sealed foods, such as canned foods that have not been properly sterilized. The germs produce the deadliest poison in the world. Even the smallest amounts lead to respiratory paralysis and cardiac arrest. The poison is also paradoxically used in beauty surgeries. Watch out for canned foods: If the lid is curved, you should no longer eat the contents.

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    Campylobacter: king of the diarrhea

    Diarrhea? Campylobacter is most likely the trigger - it is considered the most common cause of bacterial diarrhea. In Germany alone, 70,000 cases are lost every year. The bacteria are found mainly in raw poultry meat, but can be killed by heating. Roast duck breast and chicken thigh well, so that the meat is everywhere from white to gray color.

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    Listeria: fever and muscle pain

    Listeria are rare but especially dangerous - about one quarter of those infected die from an infection. The treacherous: Affected do not necessarily bring the flu-like symptoms associated with the consumption of raw milk products or smoked fish. The bacteria can infect the organs in the further course, cause meningitis or cause life-threatening blood poisoning. Simple protective measure: By heat, the germs can be killed.

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    Vibrio cholerae: dirty drinking water

    Cholera is a problem especially in Africa, Asia and Latin America: three to five million people fall ill every year, the World Health Organization estimates. The greatest risk of infection comes from dirty, not boiled drinking water - namely, when this is contaminated with human feces. Infected people get extreme diarrhea. As a result, muscle cramps, drop in blood pressure, bloody thickening, rapid heartbeat or circulatory collapse can occur.

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    Escherichia coli: Dangerous candidates among the helpers

    The human gut is full of E. coli bacteria. There they prevent other germs from spreading. But there are also "bad" E.coli - especially if they frolic on fruits and vegetables, where they are not necessarily made harmless by cooking. Probably the best known is the EHEC pathogen: In 2011, unusually many people got bad diarrhea, 53 died. The source of infection were pollinating fenugreek seeds.

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    Yersinien: Be careful with raw minced meat

    The causative agent of the plague, Yersinia pestis, is fortunately considered eradicated in Europe. But with another species of Yersinia you can get infected, among other things, by eating raw minced meat: Yersinia enterocolitica. The result is diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and fever. Most of the abdominal pain in the right groin area, so that Yersiniosis can be falsely mistaken for appendicitis.

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    Shigellen: transmission from person to person

    The most common causes of Shigella infection are drinking water or food contaminated with human excrement. In risky countries such as Egypt, Tunisia, India or Turkey, you should always boil tap water - even if they use it only for brushing your teeth. Because most Shigella infections in Germany, with nasty, sometimes bloody diarrhea, are unwanted holiday souvenirs.

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    Bacillus cereus: danger in rice

    Bacillus cereus feels particularly good in raw rice - there the bacterium forms heat-resistant permanent stages that germinate during cooking. It is particularly dangerous if the rice is kept warm at 65 degrees. If one then catches the industrially produced heat-stable toxins, one gets sick after a few hours until vomiting. Later diarrhea may be added. Bacillus cereus is an environmental bacterium found, for example, in the soil.

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    Staphylococci: inhabitants on skin and mucous membranes

    Staphylococci are actually widespread, they occur in 50 percent of people on skin or mucous membranes. It is dangerous when someone with food on the hands processed foods and contaminated so. If someone consumes the sprouted food, symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhea quickly appear. Additional problem - the bacterial toxin is heat resistant, boil off does not help. So: gloves on with wounds!

Toxoplasmosis: treatment

Toxoplasmosis, which has no symptoms or only mild lymphadenopathy, does not need to be treated.

However, a treatment of toxoplasmosis is mandatory in:

  • clear clinical symptoms
  • immunocompromised patients
  • a primary infection during pregnancy
  • Newborns who have become infected with the parasite in the womb (congenital toxoplasmosis)

The toxoplasmosis therapy is usually carried out with special antibiotics and / or antiparasitic drugs such as sulfadiazine and pyrimethamine.

Toxoplasmosis: Prevention

There are a number of behavioral rules that reduce the risk of toxoplasmosis infection:

  • Wash your hands with soap if you have touched raw meat or vegetables.
  • Also clean used kitchen utensils (chopping board, knife, etc.) thoroughly after processing meat or vegetables.
  • Do not eat raw meat or sausage products (minced meat and tartare, carpaccio, sausage, salami, prosciutto, etc.).
  • Avoid also insufficiently heated meat and sausage products (especially from pork, lamb or goat meat). In order to kill the eggs of the parasite, meat must be heated to a core temperature of at least 50° C (roasting, cooking).
  • Store earthy foods (potatoes, carrots, etc.) separate from other foods so they can not be contaminated as well.
  • Wash, peel or cook vegetables, salads and fruits before eating.
  • Wear gloves while gardening and wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.
  • Do not feed cats with raw meat.
  • Do not kiss a cat and wash your hands after contact with the animals.
  • Clean the litter box daily with hot water. Particularly vulnerable persons such as pregnant women should leave this task to others.
  • Cover sandboxes when not in use so they can not be used by cats as litter trays.
  • Particularly vulnerable people should not pet free-roaming cats.
  • Do not drink unfiltered water from lakes, streams, etc. in the wild. It can be used with oocysts toxoplasmosis-Erregers be contaminated.

Toxoplasmosis: disease course and prognosis

The course of a toxoplasmosis is usually favorable. Only in very rare cases, such as a weakened immune system, develop serious symptoms such as inflammation of the brain, heart or retina.

In case of infection with Toxoplasma gondii The body forms antibodies (antibodies) against the pathogen. As a result, sufferers are usually for life against renewed infection withtoxoplasmosis protected.

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