Toxoplasmosis is a common disease found in birds and other warm-blooded animals including most pets, livestock, and human beings. The infection is caused by a parasite called toxoplasma gondii. It was first discovered in 1908. The parasite is found throughout the world but it is more prevalent in the USA. Nearly one-third of all adults in the U.S. and in Europe have antibodies to Toxoplasma, which means that they have been exposed to this parasite. Of those who are infected, very few have symptoms because a healthy person's immune system usually checks the parasite from causing illness. However, pregnant women and individuals who have a less active immune systems should be cautious as it can cause serious health problems.
There are two populations who are at high risk for infection with Toxoplasma:
Infants born to mothers who became infected with Toxoplasma for the first time during or just before pregnancy.
Persons with severely weakened immune systems, such as individuals with HIV/AIDS, those taking certain types of chemotherapy, and those who have recently received an organ transplant.