Toxocariasis: America’s Most Common Neglected Infection of Poverty and a Helminthiasis of Global Importance?

infection in the United States, affecting millions of Americans living in poverty. The infection is also highly prevalent in many developing countries and its global importance may be greatly underestimated.

Toxocariasis results from zoonotic transmission of the roundworms, Toxocara canis and T. cati from dogs and cats, respectively. Infection occurs when humans accidentally ingest the microscopic, oval and thick-shelled-embryonated eggs (shed in dog and cat feces) containing Toxocara larvae by hand-to-mouth contact. Children are particularly prone to infection because they are exposed to the eggs on sandboxes and playgrounds contaminated with dog and cat feces. After ingestion of the eggs, the released larvae penetrate the intestine and migrate through the liver, lungs, and central nervous system. The resulting host inflammatory response ultimately overwhelms and either kills the migrating larvae or forces them into a state of arrested development, but not before they cause both mechanical and immunopathological damage to the issues.

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