Last Updated: July 25, 2018
Toxoplasmosis is the most common opportunistic CNS infection associated with AIDS. When infecting the brain parenchyma, toxoplasmosis can cause a necrotizing encephalitis. It is caused by the parasite Toxoplasma gondii, whose oocytes are commonly found in the feces of birds and mammals, and domestic cats in particular.
Humans become infected when they ingest the oocytes, usually via uncooked and contaminated foods. The infection is often indolent, and most affected patients are asymptomatic. However, headache is the most common presenting symptom. Patients are at greatest risk of developing opportunistic infections when the CD4+ cell count falls below 200 cells/mm3.
Toxoplasmosis usually presents as multiple parenchymal lesions with surrounding edema and central necrosi...