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Ann Trop Med Parasitol. 2010 Jan;104(1):3-23. doi: 10.1179/136485910X12607012373957.

Human toxocariasis: diagnosis, worldwide seroprevalences and clinical expression of the systemic and ocular forms.

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Laboratory of Seroepidemiology and Immunobiology, Institute of Tropical Medicine of São Paulo, Avenida Dr Enéas de Carvalho Aguiar 470, 05403-000, São Paulo, SP, Brazil.


Although human toxocariasis ranks among the most common zoonotic infections worldwide, it remains relatively unknown to the public. The causal agents are the nematode parasites Toxocara canis and T. cati, whose definitive hosts are dogs and cats, respectively. When embryonated eggs are accidentally ingested by humans, larvae hatch in the small intestine, penetrate the intestinal wall and migrate, via the bloodstream, to the liver, lungs, muscles, eye and central nervous system. Although most human infections are asymptomatic, two well-defined clinical syndromes are classically recognised: visceral larva migrans (a systemic disease caused by larval migration through major organs) and ocular larva migrans (a disease limited to the eyes and optic nerves). Two less-severe syndromes have recently been described, one mainly in children (covert toxocariasis) and the other mainly in adults (common toxocariasis). Here, the current laboratory diagnosis, epidemiology and main clinical features of both the systemic and ocular forms of human toxocariasis are reviewed. New developments in serological diagnosis are described, the available seroprevalence data are analysed, and the results of relevant clinical studies that have been published over the last decade are explored, to provide an updated overview of this neglected but highly prevalent human infection.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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