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Vet Parasitol. 2003 May 1;113(3-4):243-52.

An estimation of Toxocara canis prevalence in dogs, environmental egg contamination and risk of human infection in the Marche region of Italy.

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  • 1Department of Veterinary Sciences, University of Camerino, 62024, Matelica, MC, Italy.


The human risk of infection with larvae of Toxocara canis was estimated in people from the Marche region of Italy. This region includes both urban and rural areas and its inhabitants frequently keep dogs for company, hunting, as guardians or shepherds. T. canis infection was diagnosed in 33.6% out of 295 dogs examined. Nearly half of the dogs (48.4%) living in rural areas were found T. canis positive, compared to about one-quarter of the dogs (26.2%) from urban areas. Analysis by provenance and role revealed the highest infection rate in rural hunting dogs (64.7%) and the lowest in urban companion dogs (22.1%). According to questionnaire data, the peridomestic environment, i.e. gardens and dog pens, is the most important defecation site in both rural and urban areas. Since over 40% of the dogs who defecate in dog pens are infected and 24% of urban and 47% of rural dogs who leave their droppings in the house surroundings harbour the parasite, it is clear that these environments may constitute sites of zoonotic risk. Our analysis of soil samples from 60 farms confirmed the high contamination level, revealing positive soil samples in more than half of the farms. Substantial egg contamination was also found in urban areas, as 3/6 parks examined were Toxocara spp. positive. Finally, our serological findings indicate that human infection actually occurs in the area: 7 out of 428 adults examined (1.6%) had very high levels of antibodies to T. canis antigen, suggesting a previous contact with the Larva migrans of the nematode.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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