Pronounced tok-so-plaz-MO-sis

Key points about toxoplasmosis

  • Toxoplasmosis is a common infection that usually occurs by eating infected meat or by exposure to the faeces (poo/tūtae) of infected cats.
  • The infection is usually harmless but can cause serious problems if you're pregnant or have a weak immune system.
  • Toxoplasmosis may cause flu-like symptoms but most people affected don't develop any symptoms so don’t realise they have it.
  • If you have toxoplasmosis and you're pregnant or have lowered immunity you will be prescribed medicine.
Cat digging in vegetable bed
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Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by infection with the Toxoplasma gongii parasite, one of the world’s most common parasites.

The infection is normally harmless but in rare cases it can cause serious problems. Your risk is increased if:

  • you get infected when you are pregnant: Toxoplasmosis can cause miscarriage. If it spreads to your baby it can cause serious complications, especially if you catch it early in pregnancy. Read more about toxoplasmosis in pregnancy.
  • your immune system is weakened: For example, if you have HIV, have recently had an organ transplant or you're having chemotherapy

Toxoplasmosis doesn’t normally cause symptoms and most people won’t know they have had it. Some people have flu-like symptoms, which normally get better on their own within about 6 days. Symptoms are more common and more severe in people with weakened immune systems. In these cases, symptoms may include confusion, seizures, poor coordination, blurred vision and lung pain.

If you have a weakened immune system, or are pregnant, and think you may be infected by toxoplasmosis, see your doctor. Toxoplasmosis can be diagnosed through a blood test. Your doctor can prescribe medicines to treat the infection if necessary.

Once you have had toxoplasmosis you are normally immune for the rest of your life. However, if your immune system becomes weakened, the infection may become active again.

If you think you may have been exposed to toxoplasmosis infection and you are pregnant or have a weakened immune system, see your healthcare provider. They will take a blood test to check for infection. If the laboratory results confirm infection, your healthcare provider will usually recommend treatment with 1 or more medications. 

Read more about treatment on the toxoplasmosis infection in pregnancy page.

The parasite that causes toxoplasmosis is found in infected meat and in the faeces (poo/tūtae) of infected cats. It can also be present in soil contaminated by infected cat poo.

Image credit: Canva

If you are pregnant or have a weakened immune system:

  • don’t eat raw or undercooked meat, or cured meats, such as salami or ham
  • don’t have unpasteurised milk or any products made from it
  • wear gloves while emptying cat litter trays and empty them every day (the Toxoplasma parasite does not become infectious until the poo has been there for 1 to 5 days)
  • wear gloves while gardening
  • wash your hands before preparing food and eating
  • wash hands, knives and chopping boards thoroughly after preparing raw meat
  • wash fruit and vegetables thoroughly to get rid of any traces of soil
  • cover children’s sandboxes/sandpits. 

Toxoplasmosis(external link) NHS Choices, UK


  1. Toxoplasmosis(external link) Mayo Clinic, US, 2022
  2. Toxoplasmosis(external link) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, US, 2024
  3. Toxoplasmosis – general FAQs(external link) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, US, 2024

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Credits: Healthify editorial team. Healthify is brought to you by Health Navigator Charitable Trust.

Reviewed by: Claire Salter, Pharmacists, Tauranga

Last reviewed: