Background: Congenital toxoplasmosis is a severe, life-altering disease in the United States. A recently developed enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) distinguishes Toxoplasma gondii parasite types (II and not exclusively II [NE-II]) by detecting antibodies in human sera that recognize allelic peptide motifs of distinct parasite types.
Methods: ELISA determined parasite serotype for 193 congenitally infected infants and their mothers in the National Collaborative Chicago-based Congenital Toxoplasmosis Study (NCCCTS), 1981-2009. Associations of parasite serotype with demographics, manifestations at birth, and effects of treatment were determined.
Results: Serotypes II and NE-II occurred in the United States with similar proportions during 3 decades. For persons diagnosed before or at birth and treated in infancy, and persons diagnosed after 1 year of age who missed treatment in infancy, proportions were similar (P = .91). NE-II serotype was more common in hot, humid regions (P = .02) but was also present in other regions. NE-II serotype was associated with rural residence (P < .01), lower socioeconomic status (P < .001), and Hispanic ethnicity (P < .001). Prematurity (P = .03) and severe disease at birth (P < .01) were associated with NE-II serotype. Treatment with lower and higher doses of pyrimethamine with sulfadizine improved outcomes relative to those outcomes of persons in the literature who did not receive such treatment.
Conclusions: Type II and NE-II parasites cause congenital toxoplasmosis in North America. NE-II serotype was more prevalent in certain demographics and associated with prematurity and severe disease at birth. Both type II and NE-II infections improved with treatment.
Clinical trials registration: NCT00004317.