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Infect Genet Evol. 2012 Oct;12(7):1344-8. doi: 10.1016/j.meegid.2012.04.019. Epub 2012 Apr 28.

Advances in molecular identification, taxonomy, genetic variation and diagnosis of Toxocara spp.

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State Key Laboratory of Veterinary Etiological Biology, Key Laboratory of Veterinary Parasitology of Gansu Province, Lanzhou Veterinary Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Lanzhou, Gansu Province 730046, PR China.


The genus Toxocara contains parasitic nematodes of human and animal health significance, such as Toxocara canis, Toxocara cati and Toxocara vitulorum. T. canis and T. cati are among the most prevalent parasites of dogs and cats with a worldwide distribution. Human infection with T. canis and T. cati, which can cause a number of clinical manifestations such as visceral larva migrans (VLMs), ocular larva migrans (OLMs), eosinophilic meningoencephalitis (EME), covert toxocariasis (CT) and neurotoxocariasis, is considered the most prevalent neglected helminthiasis in industrialized countries. The accurate identification Toxocara spp. and their unequivocal differentiation from each other and from other ascaridoid nematodes causing VLMs and OLMs has important implications for studying their taxonomy, epidemiology, population genetics, diagnosis and control. Due to the limitations of traditional (morphological) approaches for identification and diagnosis of Toxocara spp., PCR-based techniques utilizing a range of genetic markers in the nuclear and mitochondrial genomes have been developed as useful alternative approaches because of their high sensitivity, specificity, rapidity and utility. In this article, we summarize the current state of knowledge and advances in molecular identification, taxonomy, genetic variation and diagnosis of Toxocara spp. with prospects for further studies.

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