Toxoplasma gondii Infection: A Feline Zoonosis with Potential Dangers for the Unborn Foetus and AIDS Sufferer

  • G. C. Cook
Part of the The Bloomsbury Series in Clinical Science book series (BLOOMSBURY)


Toxoplasmosis is a world-wide zoonotic infection which is caused by the protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii (Cook 1990); it produces a generalized disease but the central nervous system frequently bears the major brunt. Many other animals in addition to man are affected (Frenkel 1984; Kwantes 1987; Manson-Bahr and Bell 1987; Dubey and Beattie 1988). The domestic cat and other felines constitute the definitive host (Elliot et al. 1985; Paradisi et al. 1989); between 30% and 80% of domestic cats are affected. The life-cycle usually involves the cat, together with several small rodents and birds (the intermediate host) (Kwantes 1987); man and other large mammals (T gondii is a major cause of abortion in sheep) may suffer serious disease but they play no part in the cycle. The acute infection is usually asymptomatic, but a febrile illness (often accompanied by lymphadenopathy) and cardiac, cerebral, ophthalmic, pulmonary and/or hepatic involvement may occur. Foetal infection (which results from transplacental transmission) can result in serious congenital defects (McCabe and Remington 1983; Couvreur and Desmonts 1988; McCabe and Remington 1988); recrudescence of an established (latent) infection in the presence of immunosuppression (most importantly that caused by AIDS) constitutes a very serious ‘opportunistic’ event (McCabe and Remington 1983,1988; Editorial 1989; Cook 1987). Human disease results from ingestion of (i) oocysts passed in feline faeces (usually via soil contamination), or (ii) tissue cysts in infected meat; rarely, blood tachyzoites are responsible (see below).


Acquire Immune Deficiency Syndrome Toxoplasma Gondii Congenital Infection Tissue Cyst Congenital Toxoplasmosis 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. C. Cook
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.Hospital for Tropical DiseasesUniversity College HospitalUK
  2. 2.St Luke’s Hospital for the ClergyUK
  3. 3.London School of Hygiene and Tropical MedicineUK
  4. 4.Royal Nigerian ArmyNigeria
  5. 5.Makerere UniversityUganda

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