Most Americans have never heard of the neglected infections of poverty now affecting impoverished black communities. Toxocariasis is a parasitic worm infection acquired from dirt, soil, and sandboxes contaminated with dog and cat feces, mostly in degraded urban areas and rural environments in the South. The larval worms migrate through the lungs and brain of children to cause pulmonary dysfunction and wheezing akin to asthma, but also cognitive and intellectual deficits. Toxocariasis is not a rare disease. Read the rest here
This week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced a new initiative that targets parasitic diseases in the United States. Coinciding with the publication of a series of articles in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (AJTMH), the new CDC initiative will prioritize five major parasitic diseases — Chagas disease, cysticercosis, toxocariasis, toxoplasmosis and trichomoniasis — which are considered neglected because they mainly impact Americans who live in extreme poverty, especially in the southern United States and in degraded urban areas of major U.S. cities. CDC’s renewed commitment to these diseases is extremely welcome, and I especially want to congratulate the dynamic leadership of their Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria including Drs. Monica Parise and Larry Slutsker, who lead these activities.
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.