How is Toxoplasma (T) gondii infection transmitted?

Updated: Mar 08, 2019
  • Author: Murat Hökelek, MD, PhD; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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Answer

T gondii oocysts, tachyzoites, and bradyzoites can cause infection in humans. Infection can occur by ingestion of oocysts following the handling of contaminated soil or cat litter or through the consumption of contaminated water or food sources (eg, unwashed garden vegetables). Transmission of tachyzoites to the fetus can occur via the placenta following primary maternal infection.

Rarely, infection by tachyzoites occurs from ingestion of unpasteurized milk or by direct entry into the bloodstream through a blood transfusion or laboratory accident. Transmission can also occur via ingestion of tissue cysts (bradyzoites) in undercooked or uncooked meat or through transplantation of an organ that contains tissue cysts. (Slaughterhouse workers and butchers may be at increased risk of infection.) In Europe and the United States, pork is the major source of T gondii infection in humans.


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