Click for abstract
Toxoplasmosis is caused by infection with the protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii. Infections are usually either asymptomatic or develop mild symptoms that are self-limited, but infections in immunosuppressed persons can be severe. Infections in pregnant women can cause serious health problems in the child such as mental retardation and blindness. Infection with T. gondii in immunocompetent adults can lead to impaired eyesight. Toxoplasmosis has ranked very highly in two studies of death and disability attributable to foodborne pathogens. The consumption of raw or undercooked meat containing T. gondii tissue cysts and the consumption of raw vegetables or water contaminated with T. gondii oocysts from cat feces is most frequently associated with human illness. The risk of acquiring a Toxoplasma infection via food varies with cultural and eating habits in different human populations.