Congenital toxoplasmosis presenting as eosinophilic encephalomyelitis with spinal cord hemorrhage

Casey N. Vera, W. Matthew Linam, Judith A. Gadde, David S. Wolf, Karen Walson, Jose G. Montoya, Christina A. Rostad*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


A 4-week-old male neonate with a history of intermittent hypothermia in the newborn nursery presented with an acute onset of bilateral lower extremity paralysis and areflexia. Extensive workup demonstrated eosinophilic encephalomyelitis and multifocal hemorrhages of the brain and spinal cord. Funduscopic examination revealed bilateral chorioretinitis with macular scarring. The laboratory values were notable for peripheral eosinophilia and cerebrospinal fluid eosinophilic pleocytosis (28 white blood cells/µL, 28% eosinophils), markedly elevated protein (1214 mg/dL), and hypoglycorrhachia (20 mg/dL). Toxoplasma gondii immunoglobulin M (IgM) test result was positive. Reference testing obtained at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation Toxoplasma Serology Laboratory confirmed the diagnosis of congenital toxoplasmosis in the infant with a positive immunoglobulin G (IgG) dye test result, immunoglobulin A enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, and IgM immunosorbent agglutination assay. The diagnosis of an infection acquired during gestation in the mother was established by a positive maternal IgG dye test result, IgM enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, immunoglobulin A, immunoglobulin E, and low IgG avidity. At 6-month follow-up, the infant had marginal improvement in his retinal lesions and residual paraplegia with hyperreflexia and clonus of the lower extremities. A repeat MRI demonstrated interval development of encephalomalacia with suspected cortical laminar necrosis and spinal cord atrophy in the areas of previous hemorrhage. Clinicians should be aware of this severe spectrum of congenital toxoplasmosis disease and should remain vigilant for subtler signs that may prompt earlier testing, diagnosis, and treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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