Toxoplasmosis is an infection caused by a parasite called Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii).
The infection is common worldwide, including in the UK, but it's rarely reported because there areoftenno symptoms.
Around 350 cases are reported in England and Wales each year, but it's thought the actual number of infections could be as high as 350,000.
Estimates suggest up to a third of people in the UK will be infected by toxoplasmosis at some point in their life, butmost people won't notice it.
Toxoplasmosis is usually nothing to worry about becausethe immune system is normally strong enough to fight the infection and stop it from causing serious illness. After getting the infection, most people are immune to it for the rest of their life.
However,it can lead to serious problemsin:
Congenital toxoplasmosis is rare in the UK, with estimates suggesting only around 1 in every 10,000 to 30,000babies are born with the condition.
You can become infected if the parasites get into your mouthfor example,by:
Toxoplasmosis can't be passed from person to person, other than inrare cases, such as receiving an infected organ during an organ transplant, orifa newly infected mother passes the infection on to her unborn baby.
Testingmay be carried out if there's a chance you have the infection and you have symptoms or you're at risk of serious problems. For example, it may be recommended if you're diagnosed with HIV.
In the UK, testing for toxoplasmosis isn't routinely carried out during pregnancy. If you're concernedyou might have been infected while you're pregnant, talk to your midwife, GP or obstetrician about the possibility of getting tested.
Pyrimethamine plus sulfadiazine or azithromycin alone are the main medications used.
Pregnant women infected with toxoplasmosis for the first time may be given medication to reduce the risk of the unborn baby also becoming infected or damaged, although it's not clear exactly how effective this is.
There are a number of measures you can take to reduce your risk of developing toxoplasmosis, including:
It's particularly important to take these precautions if you're pregnant or have a weakened immune system.
Read about toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infection that can be dangerous for pregnant women and people with weak immune systems.
Read about the main symptoms of toxoplasmosis, including what problems the infection can cause during pregnancy and in people with weak immune systems.
Read about how you can get toxoplasmosis and whether the infection can be spread between people.
Read about the tests used to diagnose toxoplasmosis, including about testing in pregnancy.
Read about how toxoplasmosis is treated, including how the infection is treated in pregnant women and babies.
Read about the complications of toxoplasmosis that can occur if the infection spreads to the eyes or brain, or from a pregnant woman to her unborn child.