Toxoplasma is a crescent shaped sporozoan that lives as intracellular parasite in various tissues of vertebrates and completes its life cycle in a single host. It is transmitted via raw/undercooked meat, contaminated soil, or by direct contact. Infection due to Toxoplasma gondii usually occurs in pregnant women where a variable degree of immunosuppression may exist or in patients receiving immunosuppressive drug therapy following organ transplant. Toxoplasma infects tissue of the GI tract where an active infection is accompanied by fever and enlargement of the spleen. Symptoms of toxoplasmosis are generally mild but severe infection of lymph nodes may occur. Congenital toxoplasmosis, in which the maternal infection is transmitted during pregnancy, can produce blindness or mental retardation in the newborn. Toxoplasma gondii infections in humans are widespread but vary greatly by region. The organism enters the intestinal epithelium and can spread to other host tissues. In healthy individuals the infection is usually asymptomatic. However, for individuals with compromised immune systems, a Toxoplasma infection can cause serious health problems.
T. gondii; T. gondii 38 kDa