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Immunocompromised Persons

If you have a weakened immune system, it is important to talk to your health care provider about getting a blood test to determine if you have been infected with Toxoplasma gondii.

If you have HIV infection and have not been infected previously with T. gondii, you are more likely to develop a severe infection if you become infected. Even if you have a prior infection, with the development of immunodeficiency you may experience a relapse. This relapse can result in symptoms such as headache, confusion, poor coordination, nausea or vomiting, and fever. You may also experience seizures.

Reduce Risk of Toxo from Food

Peel or wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating.

Peel or wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating.

Reduce the risk of acquiring toxoplasmosis and other infections from food by following these guidelines:

  • Cook food to safe temperatures. A food thermometer should be used to measure the internal temperature of cooked meat. Do not sample meat until it is cooked. USDA recommends the following for meat preparation.
    • For Whole Cuts of Meat (excluding poultry)
      • Cook to at least 145° F (63° C) as measured with a food thermometer placed in the thickest part of the meat, then allow the meat to rest* for three minutes before carving or consuming.
    • For Ground Meat (excluding poultry)
      • Cook to at least 160° F (71° C); ground meats do not require a rest* time.
    • For All Poultry (whole cuts and ground)
      • Cook to at least 165° F (74° C), and for whole poultry allow the meat to rest* for three minutes before carving or consuming.

    *According to USDA, "A 'rest time' is the amount of time the product remains at the final temperature, after it has been removed from a grill, oven, or other heat source. During the three minutes after meat is removed from the heat source, its temperature remains constant or continues to rise, which destroys pathogens."

    More on: Fight BAC: Safe Food Handling

  • Freeze meat for several days at sub-zero (0° F) temperatures before cooking to greatly reduce chance of infection.
  • Peel or wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating.
  • Wash cutting boards, dishes, counters, utensils, and hands with hot soapy water after contact with raw meat, poultry, seafood, or unwashed fruits or vegetables.

Reduce Risk of Toxo from the Environment

Reduce the risk of acquiring toxoplasmosis from the environment by following these guidelines:

  • Avoid drinking untreated drinking water.
  • Wear gloves when gardening and during any contact with soil or sand because it might be contaminated with cat feces that contain Toxoplasma. Wash hands with soap and warm water after gardening or contact with soil or sand.
  • Keep outdoor sandboxes covered.
  • Feed cats only canned or dried commercial food or well-cooked table food, not raw or undercooked meats.
    Have someone else clean the litter box.

    Have someone else clean the litter box. (CDC Photo)

  • Change the litter box daily if you own a cat. The Toxoplasma parasite does not become infectious until 1 to 5 days after it is shed in a cat's feces.
    1. Avoid changing cat litter if possible. If no one else can perform the task, wear disposable gloves and wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water afterwards.
    2. Keep cats indoors.
    3. Do not adopt or handle stray cats, especially kittens. Do not get a new cat while you are pregnant.
 
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  • Page last reviewed: January 10, 2013
  • Page last updated: January 10, 2013
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