Toxoplasmosis Treatment and Prevention

This is an infectious disease caused by a parasite with a single cell known as Toxoplasma gondii. The infection is also called Toxo and, in a majority of cases, the infection occurs mildly and goes away on its own without treatment.

In the few cases where treatment is needed, a toxoplasmosis test Londonwould be carried out and, a treatment which involves antibiotics or antimalarial drugs will be administered. In cases where a patient with acute toxoplasmosis is pregnant or has a compromised immune system like in an HIV infection, antibiotics are administered to prevent severe complications of the infection. 

Acute treatment

Those whose immune systems are not compromised do not show any symptoms when they contract the infection and, when there are symptoms, it occurs mildly. Symptoms of toxoplasmosis are easily mistaken for that of flu, and even when a doctor diagnosis the infection, they usually recommend bed rest and an over-the-counter pain killer like ibuprofen or acetaminophen.

When medications are recommended for people with toxoplasmosis, it is usually for those whose immune systems are not strong enough to fight off the infection. People who require treatment for toxoplasmosis include those with advanced HIV infection, those who recently had an organ transplant, and those undergoing chemotherapy.

Recommended therapies

Doctors recommend antibiotics and other medications that fight off infections and prevent the progression of diseases. This treatment therapy usually lasts for six months. Commonly prescribed medications for toxoplasmosis include:

  • Pyrimethamine- this is an antimalarial drug known to be effective in treating acute toxo infection.
  • Sulfadiazine- it is often used in combination with pyrimethamine.
  • Clindamycin- it is an alternative to sulfadiazine used in combination with pyrimethamine.
  • Minocycline- an antibiotic used when a person is resistant to clindamycin and sulfadiazine.
  • Folinic acid- it is used as a supplement to reduce the risk of thrombocytopenia (low platelets).

Treatment for pregnant women

Treatment of toxoplasmosis in pregnant women is necessary to prevent foetal infection. Although, the transmission of the infection from mother to child rarely occurs.

Diagnosing toxoplasmosis during pregnancy is usually difficult, and antibiotics may not be effective in preventing transmission to the unborn child. Due to this fact, it is important for pregnant women who have toxoplasmosis or are at increased risk of contracting the infection to seek special care.

Doctors prescribe spiramycinfrom the time of pregnancy to the time of delivery for pregnant women who have acute toxoplasmosis in their first trimester. However, if the infection is diagnosed after the first trimester, the woman would need to take pyrimethamine, sulfadiazine, and folinic acid from the time of diagnosis to delivery.

Paediatric recommendation

Newborns whose mothers have toxoplasmosis require treatment whether or not the mother had symptoms or was on medication. The treatment plan comprises of pyrimethamine, sulfadiazine, and folinic acid and can last for 6 – 12 months.

If the baby is diagnosed with toxoplasmosis and HIV, the doctor will prescribe TMP-SMX and HIV therapy. The TMP-SMX would help prevent toxoplasmosis encephalitis (a severe complication resulting from congenital toxoplasmosis). The medication would be administered until the HIV drugs can normalise the baby’s immune system. If the baby has toxoplasmic encephalitis, the doctor will prescribe corticosteroids to reduce brain inflammation and anticonvulsive drugs to prevent seizures.

Treatment of toxoplasmosis in People with HIV

Toxoplasmosis is usually severe in people with HIV. The infection can be life-threatening, affecting the brains, eyes, and lungs. In most cases, the infection is severe due to reactivation of a past infection rather than a new one. This happens because the immune system is compromised.

Antiretroviral therapy

When people with HIV get infected with T. gondii, it is referred to as an opportunistic infection because the immune system is too weak to fight it off. The most effective way to treat toxoplasmosis in people with HIVis to restore the body’s immune defences.

Antiretroviral drugs are administered to help boost the immune system’s function by interfering with the ability of the virus to replicate. This medication does not cure the infection but keeps the viral population as low as possible to ensure that they do not affect the body’s immune system.

Antiretroviral therapy and a combination of three drugs are prescribed for those who have HIV and toxoplasmosis to restore the body’s immune function. The treatment is required for a long time and, regular visits to the doctor to monitor the immune system is necessary.

Antibiotics therapy

The treatment for reactivated toxoplasmosis infection usually consists of the following

  • Pyrimethamine, sulfadiazine, and folinic acid.
  • Pyrimethamine, clindamycin, and folinic acid
  • Atovaquone, pyrimethamine, and folinic acid
  • Azithromycin, pyrimethamine, and folinic acid
  • Atovaquone and sulfadiazine.

When the infection is cleared, the doctor will prescribe TMP-SMX to prevent a reoccurrence.

Infection with T.gondiimay lead to other complications like ocular toxoplasmosis, CNS toxoplasmosis, and pulmonary toxoplasmosis. Treatment for these complications would depend on the severity of the symptoms present.

Preventing toxoplasmosis

To prevent toxoplasmosis, ensure you do the following.

  • Wear a pair of disposable hand gloves when cleaning a cat litter box and doing outdoor gardening
  • Properly cook your meat, poultry, and fish.
  • Peel and thoroughly wash your vegetables and fruits.
  • Clean your cutting boards, knives, and any surface that comes in contact with raw meat.
  • Avoid drinking or using contaminated water.
  • Always cover your child’s sandbox.
  • Properly wash your hands with hot water and soap after gardening, playing with your cat, preparing food, and cleaning a sandbox.

If you suspect exposuse to T. gondii, ensure you get a private toxoplasmosis test in London done to know if you are infected. Your test for toxoplasmosis can be done at Private Blood Tests London Clinic. Call us now on 020 71830244 to book an appointment for your blood test.

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