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Toxoplasmosis Blood Test

Last updated April 23, 2018

Approved by: Krish Tangella MD, MBA, FCAP

The Toxoplasmosis Blood Test is a test to detect the presence of T. gondii in blood.

What are the other Names for this Test? (Equivalent Terms)

  • Toxoplasma IgG/IgM Antibodies Blood Test
  • Toxoplasma Molecular Detection by PCR Blood Test
  • Toxoplasmosis Serology Blood Test 

What is Toxoplasmosis Blood Test? (Background Information)

  • Toxoplasmosis is a disease resulting from infection by the microscopic parasite Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii). T. gondii is very common throughout the world. In some countries, it may infect 95% of the population
  • Though usually mild, toxoplasmosis can severely affect certain individuals. In people with healthy immune systems, T. gondii may cause minor to non-existent toxoplasmosis. However, toxoplasmosis may be life-threatening in those with limited immune systems (individuals, who are immunocompromised)
  • HIV infection, cancer therapy, and immunosuppressant medications to recipients of organ transplants, can decrease the effectiveness of the immune system. These individuals are especially susceptible to severe toxoplasmosis
  • Toxoplasmosis is also extremely dangerous to unborn children. This is because, T. gondii can spread from a pregnant mother to her developing baby, whose immune system is not yet fully developed. T. gondii can cause fetal development defects and even result in a stillbirth
  • Other than pregnancy, the most common ways T. gondii gets transmitted are by eating undercooked meat, drinking contaminated water, and coming into contact with infected animals, most often cats
  • Domestic and wild cats are natural carriers of T. gondii. They acquire T. gondii eggs from their food and environment. The eggs then become active and are able to spread to other hosts, including humans
  • The eggs can reside in an individual for extended periods of time without causing infection. When they sense that the host’s immune system has been weakened, the eggs may “hatch”, releasing T. gondii that may cause toxoplasmosis

The Toxoplasmosis Blood Test is a test to detect the presence of T. gondii in blood. It can do this in two different ways:

  • Detection of specific antibodies created by the immune system upon exposure to T. gondii. The presence of T. gondii-specific IgM antibodies indicates recent or current exposure. The presence of T. gondii-specific IgG antibodies indicates a past exposure
  • Detection of genetic material belonging to T. gondii: A technique called PCR is used to detect traces of specific DNA that T. gondii is known to possess 

What are the Clinical Indications for performing the Toxoplasmosis Blood Test?

Following are the clinical indications for performing the Toxoplasmosis Blood Test:

  • Exposure of a pregnant woman to wild or domestic cats
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Altered mental status
  • Visual problems
  • Enlarged liver or spleen 

How is the Specimen Collected for Toxoplasmosis Blood Test?

Following is the specimen collection process for Toxoplasmosis Blood Test:

Sample required: Blood

Process: Insertion of a needle into an arm vein.

Preparation required: No special preparation is needed prior to the test. 

What is the Significance of the Toxoplasmosis Blood Test Result?

  • A positive Toxoplasmosis Blood Test may indicate infection by Toxoplasma gondii 

The laboratory test results are NOT to be interpreted as results of a "stand-alone" test. The test results have to be interpreted after correlating with suitable clinical findings and additional supplemental tests/information. Your healthcare providers will explain the meaning of your tests results, based on the overall clinical scenario. 

Additional and Relevant Useful Information:

  • The Toxoplasmosis Test is included in the TORCH panel of tests. The TORCH panel is a series of tests for common infections that can be transmitted from a mother to her unborn child. The TORCH panel also includes tests for rubella, cytomegalovirus, and herpes simplex virus type 2
  • In the United States, nearly one-quarter of individuals over the age of 12 years, may harbor T. gondii 

Certain medications that you may be currently taking may influence the outcome of the test. Hence, it is important to inform your healthcare provider, the complete list of medications (including any herbal supplements) you are currently taking. This will help the healthcare provider interpret your test results more accurately and avoid unnecessary chances of a misdiagnosis.

References and Information Sources used for the Article:

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: Nov. 9, 2014
Last updated: April 23, 2018