Toxoplasmosis symptoms are not very well-known. For this reason, it is essential to familiarize yourself with them in order to understand whether you or your loved ones may be at risk.
First of all, what is toxoplasmosis? Toxoplasmosis is a disease that is caused by toxoplasmosis gondii, a type of parasite that can be found in uncooked meat and cat excrement.
The following are the types of toxoplasmosis and the symptoms to watch out for with each one:
Acute toxoplasmosis is a condition wherein toxoplasmosis physically manifests. During the first couple of months after contraction of the parasite, the person may experience flu-like symptoms including the following:
- · Fever
- · Swollen lymph nodes, particularly common at the neck, armpits and groins – These often occur at single sites in adults and multiple sites in children. In 60% of all cases, the swelling disappears within one to two months. The healing period ranges from 2-4 months in 25% of all cases. About 8% of the cases, on the other hand, take 4-6 months to heal.
- · Muscle aches and pains
Acute toxoplasmosis symptoms are worse in immuno-challenged people such as AIDS patients and those undergoing chemotherapy. These patients usually suffer from serious complications such as brain and eye damage. In rare cases, even patients with fully functional immune systems have been known to suffer eye damage. In babies who contract the disease from their mothers, the most common effect is nasal malformation.
Latent toxoplasmosis occurs most of the time when the person who contracts the parasite is not immuno-challenged. This is when toxoplasmosis is contracted but does not physically manifest, except as invisible cysts in muscle and nerve tissue. In these cases, the person is infected but does not know it. Infected babies may exhibit no symptoms at birth but may develop symptoms later.
Cutaneous toxoplasmosis is a more severe type of toxoplasmosis. Here, skin lesions appear on the patient. This is a rare form of the disease.
Toxoplasmosis has also been linked to psychiatric disorders such as anxiety, depression and schizophrenia. Studies have shown that schizophrenics are more likely to have an elevated level of the toxoplasmosis gondii antibodies than non-schizophrenics. This link is most probably attributable to the fact that dopamine deprivation has long been known to cause schizophrenia, and toxoplasmosis gondii contains an enzyme that limits dopamine production.
To prevent exposure to toxoplasmosis gondii, avoid handling and ingesting raw meat, cat feces and gardening, because cat excrement is commonly found in garden soil. For cat owners, exposure may be prevented by emptying the litter box every day.
If you or someone you care about is exhibiting toxoplasmosis symptoms, it is important to see a doctor right away and have it treated. Pregnant women in particular should take special care in avoiding toxoplasmosis, so as not to pass on the disease to their child. However, if they have already contracted it, having themselves treated during the pregnancy will still significantly lessen the possibility that they will pass it on to their unborn babies.
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