Toxocariasis in North America: A Systematic Review

Rachel M. Lee, Laura B. Moore, Maria Elena Bottazzi, Peter J. Hotez

Toxocariasis is an important neglected tropical disease that can manifest as visceral or ocular larva migrans, or covert toxocariasis. All three forms pose a public health problem and cause significant morbidity in areas of high prevalence. To determine the burden of toxocariasis in North America, we conducted a systematic review of the literature following PRISMA guidelines. We found 18 articles with original prevalence, incidence, or case data for toxocariasis. Prevalence estimates ranged from 0.6% in a Canadian Inuit community to 30.8% in Mexican children with asthma. Commonly cited risk factors included: African-American race, poverty, male sex, and pet ownership or environmental contamination by animal feces. Increased prevalence of Toxocara spp. infection was linked in a group of case control studies conducted in Mexico to several high risk groups including waste pickers, asthmatic children, and inpatient psychiatry patients. Further research is needed to determine the true current burden of toxocariasis in North America; however the prevalence estimates gathered in this review suggest that the burden of disease is significant.

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