Clinical Manifestations

Human infections are usually inapparent, although they sometimes can lie dormant for years and flare up in weakened or immunodeficient hosts. Most cases in otherwise healthy people are mild and cause vague symptoms like fever and weakness. The disease often mimics infectious mononucleosis. Chronic cases can cause diarrhea, headache, and eye damage. Rare fulminating infections cause severe symptoms and may affect the brain. Uterine transmission of toxoplasmosis often has grave consequences. Five to 15 percent of cases result in fetal death, and 18 to 23 percent result in moderate to severe brain and eye abnormalities. Some apparently normal infants later develop severe retinal disease or mental retardation. In persons whose immune systems have been suppressed by therapy or disease, as, for example, organ transplant recipients or acquired immune deficiency syndrome victims, old or latent infections can become activated. Cerebral toxoplasmosis is a fairly common and very serious complication of AIDS.

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