People at Increased Risk for Toxoplasmosis

Key points

  • Some people are at a higher risk for becoming infected with toxoplasmosis.
  • Some people are at a higher risk for developing severe toxoplasmosis.

Who's at risk

Pregnant women and their infants

If you get infected with Toxoplasma for the first time while you are pregnant or just before your pregnancy, you can pass the infection to your baby. It is important to note that

  • You may not have symptoms from the infection
  • Most infected infants do not have symptoms at birth, but can develop serious symptoms later in life, such as blindness or mental disability
  • Occasionally, infected newborns can have serious eye or brain damage at birth

If you had Toxoplasma infection during your pregnancy, you can still breastfeed your baby. There are no studies documenting transmission of Toxoplasma through breast milk in humans.

People who are immunocompromised

If you are immunocompromised (have a weakened immune system), talk with your healthcare provider about Toxoplasma infection. Your healthcare provider can order a blood test to see if you had a previous infection.

People who are immunocompromised can include:

  • People with HIV infection
  • Those taking certain types of chemotherapy
  • Those who have recently received an organ transplant

If you have HIV infection and have not had a previous infection, you are more likely to develop a severe infection if you become infected. Even if you had a prior infection, you may have a relapse (reactivation of infection) with the development of immunodeficiency. Toxoplasmosis can cause the following symptoms:

  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Poor coordination
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fever
  • Seizures


Cats play an important role in the spread of toxoplasmosis and can become infected after eating infected animals (e.g., through hunting). Talk to your healthcare provider about precautions you can take to protect yourself from toxoplasmosis if you are considered high risk. If you are severely immunocompromised, your healthcare provider may prescribe you preventive drugs.

If you are pregnant or immunocompromised, check out these prevention tips:

  • If possible, have someone else change cat litter. If no one else can, wear disposable gloves and wash your hands with soap and water afterwards.
  • Keep cats indoors to prevent them from hunting other animals. This will reduce your cat's chances of becoming infected with Toxoplasma.
  • Feed cats commercially prepared dry or canned food; do not feed cats raw or undercooked meats to prevent them from becoming infected with Toxoplasma.
  • Do not adopt or handle stray cats, especially kittens. Do not get a new cat while you are pregnant or immunocompromised.

If you have questions about your cat's risk of toxoplasmosis, talk to your veterinarian.

Keep reading: Preventing Toxoplasmosis