Healthy people who become infected with Toxoplasmosis often do not have symptoms because their immune system usually keeps the parasite from causing illness. When illness occurs, it is usually mild with “flu-like” symptoms (e.g., tender lymph nodes, muscle aches, etc) that last several weeks and then go away. However, the parasite remains in the body in an inactive state. It can become reactivated if the person becomes immunosuppressed.
- Touching or coming into contact with infected cat feces (cats get the infection from eating infected rodents, birds or other small animals).
- Eating raw or undercooked meat that’s infected.
- Eating uncooked, unwashed fruits or vegetables that have been contaminated by manure.
- Being born with it (a woman who gets a toxoplasmosis infection while pregnant may pass the parasite on to her unborn child through the bloodstream)
Although toxoplasmosis parasites may grow and multiply within 1 week after entering a person’s body it may be weeks or months before symptoms of the infection appear (if they appear at all).
Once a person has become infected with toxoplasmosis, the infection remains in the body for life, usually in the “inactive” form that won’t cause the person any side effects or harm. The infection can be reactivated, however, if the immune system becomes compromised by an HIV infection or cancer therapy.