Q & A Library

Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Scary Lab Test Result?

Recently, lab test results showed that I had a "titer" for toxoplasmosis, ringworm and tapeworm. It freaked me out because I am so healthy. Can you explain what a titer is and should I be concerned?

Answer (Published 2/16/2009)

The word "titer" is a laboratory term that simply refers to amount or concentration of something in blood, such as antibodies against specific germs. A titer can be high or low, of no significance, indicative of exposure in the past to a germ, or evidence of active infection.

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging for Healthy Eating - Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging for Nutrition - Want to change your diet? The Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging online guide is your anti-inflammatory diet headquarters. Start your free trial and get access to an exclusive version of Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid, hundreds of recipes, eating guides, and more.

Toxoplasmosis is an infection caused by a single-celled parasite, Toxoplasma gondii, which you can pick up from eating contaminated raw or undercooked meat, especially pork, lamb, or venison or by touching your hands to your mouth after handling such meat. Most people know you can also get toxoplasmosis by cleaning kitty litter boxes - cats shed the organism in their feces. The fact that you have a "titer" to toxoplasmosis could mean that you once had the infection or that you have it now. The difference is in the numbers: a titer of 1:16 - 1:256 means that you probably once had an infection that your body has thrown off. However, a titer higher than 1:1,024 suggests an active toxoplasmosis infection. If so, it's not surprising that you're unaware of it.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention more that 60 million men, women, and children in the U.S. carry the Toxoplasma parasite, but because the immune system usually keeps the bug from causing illness, very few ever develop symptoms. Most healthy people recover from the infection without treatment.

Ringworm is a fungal infection that usually makes itself pretty obvious, but it is also possible to be a carrier without having obvious signs of the infection (typically a ring-shaped, red rash, with a wavy, worm-like border). If a site is identified, treatment with topical anti-fungal agents is usually effective.

You can get a tapeworm from eating raw or undercooked meat from infected animals, and can host this parasite and not know it. The antibodies that showed up in your lab tests will tell the tale. Treatment depends on the type of tapeworm and the site of the infection.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle on (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being in just eight weeks! Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe Wellness Guide
Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Food Pyramid

Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you and their corresponding answers from Dr. Weil.

Copyright © 2015 Weil Lifestyle
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here