Is a Toxoplasma Test?
A toxoplasma test is a blood test that determines if you have serum
antibodies to the Toxoplasma gondii parasite. It’s also called
a toxoplasmosis test. Your body only makes these antibodies after you’ve been
infected by this parasite. The number and type of antibodies you have indicate whether
your infection was recent or occurred some time ago. Your doctor may conduct
more than one blood test over a period of several weeks.
For most adults, toxoplasmosis is harmless and goes away without
the need for treatment. If a pregnant woman becomes infected, however, the infection
may pass to the fetus. This can cause brain damage and blindness in the growing
child. To see if your baby has become infected, your doctor can test a sample
of the amniotic fluid, which is the fluid that surrounds your baby in the womb.
You’re at risk of infection by T. gondii when
you eat raw or undercooked meat from an infected animal. You may also catch it
by handling an infected cat or its feces, which can happen when cleaning their
litter box. After you become infected, you’ll have the T. gondii antibodies
as long as you live. This generally means that you can’t be infected again.
Do I Need a Toxoplasma Test?
Your doctor may wish to conduct a toxoplasmosis test to determine
- you’re pregnant and have T. gondii antibodies
- your baby has toxoplasmosis
Your doctor may also want to test you if you have a weakened
immune system due to an illness that puts you at a greater risk of contracting
toxoplasmosis, such as HIV.
Do I Prepare for a Toxoplasma Test?
No specific preparation is necessary for the test. You should let
your doctor know if you have been in contact with a cat or if you clean a
litter box. You should also tell your doctor if you have problems with clotting
or bleeding or if you take a blood thinner.
Happens During a Toxoplasma Text?
To test an adult or child for T. gondii, a healthcare
provider will take a sample of blood from your arm. Giving a blood sample
involves the following steps:
- First, a healthcare provider will clean the site
with a swab of rubbing alcohol.
- They’ll then insert the needle into a vein and attach
a tube to fill with blood.
- After drawing enough blood, they’ll remove the
needle and cover the site with a gauze pad.
According to regulations by the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention (CDC), a laboratory specializing in the diagnosis of
toxoplasmosis must analyze the blood sample.
Testing Your Baby
If you’re pregnant and currently have a toxoplasmosis infection,
there’s a 30
percent chance that your baby will become infected, so your doctor will
need to perform further tests.
Your doctor can perform an amniocentesis after the first 15 weeks
of pregnancy. Your doctor will use a very fine needle to remove a small amount
of fluid from the amniotic sac, which is the sac that surrounds your baby. A laboratory
will then test the fluid for signs of toxoplasmosis.
Although an ultrasound can’t diagnose toxoplasmosis, it can show
signs that your baby might have an infection, such as fluid buildup on the
Are the Risks Associated with a Toxoplasma Test?
Risks Associated with a Blood Test
As with any blood test, there’s a minimal risk of minor bruising
at the needle site. In rare cases, the vein may swell or become inflamed after a
blood draw. Applying a warm compress to the swollen area several times per day
can treat this condition, which is known as phlebitis.
Ongoing bleeding could be a problem if you have a bleeding
disorder or if you’re taking a blood thinner such as:
Risks Associated with Amniocentesis
Amniocentesis carries a slight risk of miscarriage. The test can sometimes
also cause abdominal cramping, irritation, or fluid leakage at the site of the
Do the Results Mean?
Your results will usually be ready within three days.
The units used when measuring the results are known as titers. A
titer is the amount of salt water needed to dilute the blood until no more
antibodies can be detected. Toxoplasmosis antibodies form within two weeks
after an infection. The titer will reach the highest level one or two months
If the lab analysis finds a titer of 1:16 to 1:256, this means
you probably have had a toxoplasmosis infection in the past. A titer of 1:1,024
or greater is probably a sign of an active infection.
Happens After a Toxoplasma Test?
If you have acute toxoplasmosis, your doctor may advise one of
the following treatments:
Pyrimethamine (Daraprim) is a treatment for malaria that’s also a
common treatment for toxoplasmosis. Your doctor may ask you to take additional
folic acid because pyrimethamine can cause folic acid deficiency. It can also
lower your vitamin B-12 levels.
This is an antibiotic used in combination with pyrimethamine
(Daraprim) to treat toxoplasmosis.
Treating Pregnant Women and Babies
If you have a toxoplasmosis infection but your baby doesn’t, your
doctor can prescribe the antibiotic spiramycin. This drug has approval to be
used for this condition in Europe, but the United States still considers it
experimental. Use of this drug will decrease your baby’s chances of getting a
toxoplasmosis infection, but it won’t interfere with normal growth and
Your doctor may prescribe pyrimethamine and sulfadiazine if your
baby has an infection, but only if the situation is extreme because both of
these drugs can have harmful side effects for you and your unborn child. Treatment
may reduce the severity of the disease, but it can’t reverse the damage that
has already been done.