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Article title: Toxocariasis: DPD
Toxocariasis is a zoonotic (animal to human) infection caused by the parasitic roundworms commonly found in the intestine of dogs (Toxocara canis) and cats (T. cati). In the United States, an estimated 10,000 cases of Toxocara infections occur yearly in humans.
There are two major forms of toxocariasis:
1) Ocular larva migrans (OLM):
Toxocara infections can cause OLM, an eye disease that can cause blindness. OLM occurs when a microscopic worm enters the eye; it may cause inflammation and formation of a scar on the retina. Each year more than 700 people infected with Toxocara experience permanent partial loss of vision.
2) Visceral larva migrans (VLM):
Heavier, or repeated Toxocara infections, while rare, can cause VLM, a disease that causes swelling of the bodyís organs or central nervous system. Symptoms of VLM, which are caused by the movement of the worms through the body, include fever, coughing, asthma, or pneumonia.
In most cases, Toxocara infections are not serious, and many people, especially adults infected by a small number of larvae (immature worms), may not notice any symptoms. The most severe cases are rare, but are more likely to occur in young children, who often play in dirt, or eat dirt (pica) contaminated by dog or cat stool.
The most common Toxocara parasite of concern to humans is T. canis, which puppies usually contract from the mother before birth or from her milk. The larvae mature rapidly in the puppyís intestines; when the pup is 3 or 4 weeks old, they begin to produce large numbers of eggs that contaminate the environment through the animalís stool. The eggs soon develop into infective larvae.
You or your children can become infected after accidentally ingesting (swallowing) infective Toxocara eggs from larvae in soil or other contaminated surfaces.
See your health care provider to discuss the possibility of infection and, if necessary, to be examined. A blood test is available for diagnosis.
VLM is treated with antiparasitic drugs, usually in combination with anti-inflammatory medications. Treatment of OLM is more difficult and usually consists of measures to prevent progressive damage to the eye.
Young children; owners of dogs and cats.
*This information prepared in association with the American Association of Veterinary Parasitologists (AAVP).
This fact sheet is for information only and is not meant to be used for self-diagnosis or as a substitute for consultation with a health care provider. If you have any questions about the disease described above or think that you may have a parasitic infection, consult a health care provider.
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