Toxoplasmosis Treatment in Abingdon, VA
What is Toxoplasmosis?
Toxoplasmosis is an infection caused by a microscopic parasite called Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 30 million people in the U.S. are estimated to carry the T. gondii parasite.
Toxoplasma gondii is most commonly found in cat feces, contaminated water, and undercooked meats—particularly venison and lamb. Blood transfusions, although rare, may also contain the T. gondii parasite.
In healthy individuals, toxoplasmosis is typically asymptomatic, as the immune system prevents the parasite from causing illness. However, toxoplasmosis can be a serious health concern for people with compromised immune systems; pregnant women also face unique problems as toxoplasmosis can cause severe birth defects.
Fortunately, there are treatments and preventative strategies available to combat the T. gondii parasite. To schedule a consultation with a healthcare practitioner in Abingdon who specializes in toxoplasmosis treatment, call (423) 482-8711 or contact Dr. Dalal Akoury online.
Healthy individuals often fight off the disease on their own and symptoms may never develop. Individuals that do develop toxoplasmosis symptoms often experience:
- Sore throat
- Swollen lymph nodes around the neck area
- Muscle aches
These symptoms usually last for a few weeks and then dissipate on their own. The parasite can remain in tissues of the body and reactivate if the person's immune system becomes compromised.
If a woman is pregnant and becomes infected with toxoplasmosis during or immediately prior to pregnancy, the condition can be transmitted to the unborn baby through congenital transmission. In certain cases, the mother may experience a miscarriage or the baby may be stillborn. If the infant survives, he or she may develop the following symptoms:
- Abnormal enlargement or smallness of the head
- Brain damage or a mental disability
- Eye damage or loss of vision
Individuals with a weakened or compromised immune system carry the highest risk of developing toxoplasmosis complications, including:
- Inflammation in the brain which can cause headaches, seizures, confusion, and coma
- Lung infections that can cause fever, cough, and shortness of breath
- Eye infections, blurred vision, and eye pain
To arrive at a toxoplasmosis diagnosis, your healthcare provider may conduct various tests for toxoplasmosis, including blood testing. Blood testing checks if antibodies—proteins produced by the immune system—to T. gondii are present which are working to fight off the parasite. A positive antibody test does not always indicate an active or current toxoplasmosis infection. Additional testing may be required to confirm a diagnosis, or your tests may be sent to a lab that specializes in T. gondii infections.
In pregnant women, testing the amniotic fluid and fetus' blood along with an ultrasound can help determine if the fetus has been infected.
If you are healthy and asymptomatic, your healthcare practitioner may not recommend any treatment for toxoplasmosis. If the disease is severe, toxoplasmosis can be treated with a combination of antiparasitic drugs such as pyrimethamine, along with an antibiotic such as trisulfapyrimidines or sulfadiazine. The vitamin folinic acid (leucovorin) is also recommended to protect the bone marrow from the toxic effects of pyrimethamine.
For a toxoplasmosis pregnancy, a combination of these drugs can be used, along with a medication called spiramycin which is recommended for the first four months of pregnancy.
In individuals with severely compromised immune systems, such as HIV or AIDS patients, these medications may be required for life or until their health significantly improves.
Natural toxoplasmosis treatment may be used along with medications, or as a preventive measure in people who are asymptomatic. Natural agents that help fight parasitic infections include:
- The botanicals wormwood, berberine, black walnut, and oregano oil
- Nutmeg essential oil
- Thyme essential oil
The Toxoplasma gondii parasite exists in feces, so it is important to wash produce before you prepare or eat it. Thoroughly heating meats (above 160o F) and freezing meats below sub-zero temperatures for three days can help destroy the parasite.
Cats are a host for T. gondii and can release parasite eggs through their feces. Wild cats or cats allowed to go outside are more likely to be carriers, while indoor cats are not. If you have a cat that is often outside, remember to wash your hands after cleaning out the litter box and to wear protective gloves. Pregnant women should avoid cleaning cat litter boxes altogether.
Maintaining a healthy immune system by consuming a healthy diet based on nutrient-dense foods, getting plenty of rest, keeping stress levels down, and taking probiotics along with a daily multivitamin can help boost your immune system and help keep infections, such as toxoplasmosis, at bay.
If you are experiencing symptoms related to toxoplasmosis, testing as well as prescription and natural treatment options are available to help you fight this parasitic infection. To schedule a consultation with a healthcare practitioner in Abingdon who can test for toxoplasmosis and provide you with treatment options, call (423) 482-8711 or contact Dr. Dalal Akoury online.
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