Treatments and drugs

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Most healthy people don't require toxoplasmosis treatment. But if you're otherwise healthy and have signs and symptoms of acute toxoplasmosis, your doctor may prescribe the following drugs:

  • Pyrimethamine (Daraprim). This medication for malaria is also used to treat toxoplasmosis. It's a folic acid antagonist, which means it may prevent your body from absorbing the important B vitamin folate (folic acid, vitamin B-9, vitamin B complex), especially when you take high doses over a long period of time. For that reason, your doctor may recommend taking additional folic acid. Other potential side effects of pyrimethamine include bone marrow suppression and liver toxicity.
  • Sulfadiazine. This antibiotic is used in combination with pyrimethamine to treat toxoplasmosis.

Treating people with HIV/AIDS

If you have HIV/AIDS, the treatment of choice for toxoplasmosis is also pyrimethamine and sulfadiazine, along with folic acid. An alternative is pyrimethamine taken along with clindamycin (Cleocin) — an antibiotic that can sometimes cause severe diarrhea.

You may need to take these medications for life. Your doctor may consider stopping toxoplasmosis therapy if your CD4 count — the amount of a particular white blood cell in your blood — remains very high for at least three to six months. Side effects of most drugs can be more severe in people with HIV/AIDS.

Treating pregnant women and babies

If you're pregnant and currently infected with toxoplasmosis but your baby isn't affected, you may be given the antibiotic spiramycin. Use of this drug can reduce the likelihood that your baby will become infected, without posing a risk to you or your child. Although routinely used to treat toxoplasmosis in Europe, spiramycin is still considered an experimental drug in the United States. Your doctor can obtain it from the Food and Drug Administration.

If tests show that your unborn child has toxoplasmosis, your doctor may suggest treatment with pyrimethamine and sulfadiazine — but only in extreme circumstances. These drugs can have serious side effects for both women and their unborn babies, so they're normally not used during pregnancy. Drug treatment may lessen the severity of the disease, but it can't undo any damage that's already been done.

Jun. 24, 2011

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