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January 2010

An Epidemic of ToxoplasmosisLessons From Coimbatore, India

Arch Ophthalmol. 2010;128(1):126-128. doi:10.1001/archophthalmol.2008.538

Toxoplasmosis is generally considered to be an endemic disease, the prevalence of which varies considerably in different geographic areas of the world. To be precise, the term toxoplasmosis refers to disease caused by the parasite Toxoplasma gondii, rather than simply infection per se, and in fact, most seropositive individuals have no history of systemic or ocular disease and have no idea when they became infected. Undercooked meat from infected food animals has been considered a major source of these infections, and the risk of ocular involvement following a postnatal infection is small in most situations. Those who do develop disease generally have a self-limited systemic illness, characterized by lymphadenopathy, fever, sore throat, myalgias, and other constitutional symptoms. Thus, toxoplasmosis has traditionally been considered a benign disease of little consequence. Public health efforts have been focused specifically on prevention of new infections in pregnant women (who can transmit the parasite to their fetuses, with the possibility of severe morbidity in the newborn) and on prophylaxis against toxoplasmosis among immunosuppressed individuals. As demonstrated by the epidemic of toxoplasmosis in Coimbatore, India, which has been described in this issue of the Archives,1 postnatally acquired infection can also have serious consequences in the general population.

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