Toxocariasis

Toxocariasis is a defined as a parasitic infection affecting humans caused by roundworms from the Toxocara genus. It is considered as a zoonotic infection which is transmitted by animals to humans.

An infection arises once the parasite is ingested. This typically occurs via contamination of the hands or food with the feces of an infected animal. In addition, an infection can also occur after ingestion of undercooked or raw infected poultry or meat.

In most cases, toxocariasis is asymptomatic, but if symptoms develop, they are categorized based on the migration path of the parasite and its site inside the body.

Potential risk factors

Some of the risk factors associated to toxocariasis include:

  • Have a pet cat or dog especially kittens and puppies. It is important to note that young animals have a weaker immune system and diminished capability to fight pathogens and infections.
  • Household pet that has not been treated for worms
  • Breeding animals inside the house
  • Young children who frequently play outside who might be exposed to contaminated animal feces.
  • Ingestion of undercooked or raw meat infected by the Toxocara larvae

What are the signs?

toxocariasis

Regular washing of hands especially after spending time outdoors, gardening or handling of animals or playing with pets before eating or performing other related activities.

The indications of toxocariasis is based on the site of migration and number of eggs or larvae in the body. The seriousness of the symptoms tends to vary where some are asymptomatic.

Some of the usual signs that might arise include:

  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Abdominal pain
  • Coughing
  • Muscle pain
  • Skin rashes
  • Weakness or tiredness

Management

The management for toxocariasis tends to vary from one individual to another depending on the site and severity of the infection.

When managing in most forms of toxocariasis, the following are included:

  • Anti-parasitic medications
  • Corticosteroids
  • Surgery

Prevention

  • Regular washing of hands especially after spending time outdoors, gardening or handling of animals or playing with pets before eating or performing other related activities.
  • Regular deworming of household animals including dogs and cats
  • Food must be thoroughly cooked particularly meat
  • Proper disposal and cleaning of animal feces
  • Supervision of young children when playing outdoors.

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