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Study Shows Women at Greater Risk for Toxoplasmosis Recurrence

Study Shows Women at Greater Risk for Toxoplasmosis Recurrence

June 12, 2023

Women are more prone to recurrent cases of the Toxoplasma parasite, as revealed by recent research conducted at Flinders University. This finding is particularly significant because recurrent toxoplasmosis infections can cause progressive damage to the retina and potentially result in vision loss.

International experts involved in the study also discovered that women have a higher likelihood of developing multiple lesions in their eyes due to toxoplasmosis. The primary objective of this research, which involved the analysis of 262 individuals attending an eye clinic in Brazil, is to gain insights into the gender-specific impacts of dangerous infections like toxoplasmosis and develop targeted treatments accordingly.

Toxoplasma, a parasite closely associated with cats, is responsible for causing the infectious disease called toxoplasmosis. Although domestic cat feces can serve as a carrier of the parasite, the primary mode of infection for humans is through the consumption of undercooked or raw meat obtained from livestock that is infected with Toxoplasma.

"Inflammation in the retina continues to be the most common disease caused by an infection with Toxoplasma. This new research shows that although the medical outcomes of toxoplasmosis are similar for both men and women, there are clear and significant differences in symptoms between genders when people present at a clinic for treatment," says study senior author Professor Justine Smith, Strategic Professor in Eye & Vision Health at Flinders University.

"For the first time, we are showing that the symptoms of toxoplasmosis vary not just depending on the age and health of the infected individual but also on their gender. This research demonstrates the potential for patients gender to influence toxoplasmosis in their eyes, so we can improve our understanding about the disease and hopefully develop future treatment pathways,” she added.

The findings, published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, involved a study conducted by Professor Smith and her team. They examined and compared the symptoms of toxoplasmosis between 139 women and 123 men who sought treatment at a clinic in Riberiao Preto, Brazil

"Lesions in women's eyes were significantly more likely to occur in the central retina compared with those in men's eyes. The quality of the vision was similar for women and men and there were no significant differences in measures of visual sharpness, ocular complications, and occurrence and timing of disease reactivations between the genders," says Professor Smith.

"Ultimately, we determined that toxoplasmosis has similar outcomes for both genders but that there are clear differences in the type and characteristics of the disease which impact each gender differently."


Matilda R Lyons et al, Impact of gender on clinical features and outcomes of ocular toxoplasmosis, British Journal of Ophthalmology (2023). DOI: 10.1136/bjo-2023-323227