What Is Toxoplasmosis?

Toxoplasmosis (Toxo) is a potentially serious, sometimes fatal infection caused by the Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) parasite, one of the most common parasites in the world.1

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) consider Toxoplasmosis to be one of the five neglected parasitic infections.1 Toxoplasmosis has been targeted by the CDC as a priority for public health action based on the:

  • Number of people infected
  • Severity of illness
  • Ability to prevent and treat it

Though many people are infected with the parasite—over 40 million in the United States—only a small number may experience serious complications.2

Who Is at Risk for Toxoplasmosis?

People most at risk for serious complications from toxoplasmosis include:1,6

  • People living with HIV/AIDS
  • Cancer patients
  • Transplant recipients
  • People with reduced immunity and/or receiving immunosuppressant drugs
  • Pregnant women and their fetus
  • Babies born to mothers with toxoplasmosis

How Do You Become Infected with T. gondii?2

Humans can be infected by T. gondii in several ways but once a person is infected, they are infected for life.

Humans can be infected by:

  • Coming into contact with cat feces that contain the parasite
  • Contracting the parasite from infected soil
  • Eating or drinking infected food or water
  • Using contaminated knives, cutting boards, or other utensils
  • Receiving an organ transplant or transfused blood from infected donor
  • Passing the parasite from mother to child

Individuals that are at risk and not infected, should take steps to prevent infection.

Additional Resources

Mayo Clinic

Diseases and Conditions: Toxoplasmosis

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Parasites – Toxoplasmosis (Toxoplasma Infection)


  3. Recommendations from CDC, the National Institutes of Health, and the HIV Medicine Association of the Infectious Diseases Society of America.
  4. Park, et al. Korean J. Parasitol. 2013;51(4):393-9.
  5. Stillwaggon E, et al. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2011;5(9):e1333.

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