Toxoplasma gondii -------------------------------Toxoplasmosis

Meningitis, Most people who become infected with Toxoplasma are not aware of it. Some people who have
toxoplasmosis may feel as if they have the "flu" with swollen lymph glands or muscle aches and pains that last for a
month or more. Severe toxoplasmosis, causing damage to the brain, eyes, or other organs, can develop from an acute
Toxoplasma infection or one that had occurred earlier in life and is now reactivated. Severe cases are more likely in
individuals who have weak immune systems, though occasionally, even persons with healthy immune systems may
experience eye damage from toxoplasmosis. Symptoms of ocular toxoplasmosis can include reduced vision, blurred
vision, pain (often with bright light), redness of the eye, and sometimes tearing. Ophthalmologists sometimes prescribe
medicine to treat active disease. Whether or not medication is recommended depends on the size of the eye lesion, the
location, and the characteristics of the lesion (acute active, versus chronic not progressing). An opthamologist may
provide the best care for ocular toxoplasmosis. Most infants who are infected while still in the womb have no symptoms
at birth, but they may develop symptoms later in life. A small percentage of infected newborns have serious eye or
brain damage at birth.

Clinical manifestations may mimic those of other opportunistic infections. Necrotizing encephalitis, pneumonitis, and
myocarditis are the most common autopsy findings. The most frequent clinical findings reflect involvement of these 3
organ systems, although disseminated toxoplasmosis is being described with increasing frequency. Incidence of
toxoplasmic encephalitis in patients with AIDS is correlated directly with the presence of antitoxoplasmal antibodies. In
patients with AIDS, CNS involvement is the most common manifestation, ranging from nonspecific, generalized
symptoms to focal findings such as headache, altered levels of consciousness, motor impairment, and seizures.
Pulmonary involvement is the second most common manifestation. Clinically, patients may appear to have tuberculosis
or infection with Pneumocystis carinii.

Most often, you won't know that you've contracted toxoplasmosis, although some people may develop signs and
symptoms similar to those of the flu or mononucleosis, such as:
Body aches, Swollen lymph nodes, Fever, Fatigue, Occasionally, a sore throat.

The risk and severity of your baby's infection often depends on when in your pregnancy you were infected. Your baby
is most at risk of toxoplasmosis if you become infected in the third trimester and least at risk if you become infected
during the first trimester. On the other hand, the earlier in your pregnancy infection occurs, the more serious the
outcome for your baby. Many early infections end in stillbirth or miscarriage, and children who do survive are likely to
be born with serious problems, such as:
An unusually large head caused by excess accumulation in the brain of the clear fluid surrounding the brain and spinal
cord (cerebrospinal fluid), a condition known medically as hydrocephalus
An enlarged liver and spleen
Yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes (jaundice)
Severe eye infections
Children born to mothers infected during the second trimester, when the possibility of transmission is greater, also may
be born with serious problems, although only a small number of babies who have toxoplasmosis show signs of the
disease at birth. Instead, the majority of infected newborns — mainly those whose mothers were infected during the last
three months of pregnancy (third trimester) — don't develop signs and symptoms of the disease until they're in their
20s or 30s. Those signs and symptoms include:
Hearing loss
Mental retardation
Serious eye infections that may lead to blindness