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Am J Epidemiol. 2001 Aug 15;154(4):357-65.

Toxoplasma gondii infection in the United States: seroprevalence and risk factors.

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  • 1Division of Parasitic Diseases, National Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA 30341-3724, USA.


Infection with Toxoplasma gondii can cause severe illness when the organism is contracted congenitally or when it is reactivated in immune-suppressed persons. To determine the prevalence of T. gondii infection in a representative sample of the US population, the authors tested sera from participants in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (1988-1994) for immunoglobulin G antibodies to T. gondii. Of 27,145 persons aged > or =12 years, 17,658 (65%) had sera tested. The overall age-adjusted seroprevalence was 22.5% (95% confidence interval (CI): 21.1, 23.9); among women aged 15-44 years, seroprevalence was 15.0% (95% CI: 13.2, 17.0). Age-adjusted seroprevalence was higher in the Northeast (29.2%) than in the South (22.8%), Midwest (20.5%), or West (17.5%) (p < 0.05). In multivariate analysis, risk for T. gondii infection increased with age and was higher among persons who were foreign-born, persons with a lower educational level, those who lived in crowded conditions, and those who worked in soil-related occupations, although in subset analyses risk categories varied by race/ethnicity. Nearly one quarter of adults and adolescents in the United States have been infected with T. gondii. Most women of childbearing age in the United States are susceptible to acute infection and should be educated about ways to minimize exposure to T. gondii.

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