Gastrointestinal & Zoonoses

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Gastrointestinal & Zoonoses

Toxoplasma

Epidemiology

Toxoplasmosis is a parasitic infection that is widely prevalent ain humans and animals throughout the world. The life cycle of the parasite is complex, but can only be completed in cats, which are the definitive hosts and excrete resistant oocysts in their faeces. Oocysts can infect virtually all warm-blooded animals and human infection occurs either directly by ingesting substances contaminated with cat faeces or indirectly by ingesting undercooked infected meat of species which have themselves become infected from cats. An infected pregnant woman can congenitally infect her unborn child, but other than this, there is no person-to-person spread.

Main clinical features

Many infections are asymptomatic. In congenitally infected children there may be mental retardation and loss of vision. The infection can cause severe disease in immunocompromised patients, such as those suffering from AIDS, characterised by encephalitis which can be fatal.

Incubation period

10 - 25 days

Surveillance

Voluntary laboratory reports.

Annual Surveillance Tables