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, typically used for malaria, is a folic acid antagonist. It may prevent your body from absorbing the B vitamin folate (folic acid, vitamin B-9), especially when you take high doses over a long period. 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 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, with folic acid. An alternative is pyrimethamine taken with clindamycin (Cleocin) — an antibiotic that can cause severe diarrhea.
You may need to take these medications for life, but it's possible your dose may be lowered. If your doctor prescribes toxoplasmosis therapy to prevent toxoplasmosis, you may be able to stop taking toxoplasmosis medication if your CD4 count — the amount of a particular white blood cell in your blood — remains high for at least three to six months.
Treating pregnant women and babies
If you're pregnant and infected with toxoplasmosis but your baby isn't affected, you may be given the antibiotic spiramycin. Use of this drug may reduce your baby's risk of neurological problems from congenital toxoplasmosis. Spiramycin is routinely used to treat toxoplasmosis in Europe. But it is still considered experimental 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 and after the 16th week of pregnancy. These drugs can have serious side effects for women and their unborn babies, so they're normally not used during pregnancy.
If your infant has toxoplasmosis or is likely to have it, treatment with pyrimethamine and sulfadiazine and folic acid is recommended. Your baby's doctor will need to monitor your baby while he or she is taking these medications.
July 24, 2014
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- Toxoplasmosis: Pregnant women. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/toxoplasmosis/gen_info/pregnant.html. Accessed April 21, 2014.
- Heller HM. Toxoplasmosis in HIV infected patients. http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/toxoplasmosis/gen_info/pregnant.html. Accessed April 21, 2014.