Nida Skamarakaitė1, Lina Mickienė2
1Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, Academy of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Kaunas, Lithuania
2Lithuaninan University of Health Sciences, Biological Research and Genetics Institute, Kaunas, Lithuania
Toxocariasis is a worldwide zoonosis caused by Toxocara species roundworms. In the USA alone, around 10 million people are infected, while Europe also records high levels of environmental contamination with Toxocara. Children make up the largest part of the infected ones. This infectious disease is transmitted to humans by ingesting Toxocara eggs, which can be found in the soil. They are also transmitted and spread by the final worm hosts – dogs (Toxocara canis) and cats (Toxocara cati). Very often infected individuals may not express any specific symptoms of the disease, but at least 4 serious clinical syndromes caused by toxocariasis are known. The main one – visceral toxocariasis, which causes severe damage to internal organs (liver, lungs), local inflammatory response and high eosinophilia. Equally important are 3 other syndromes: ocular toxocariasis, which results in retinal damage and leads to permanent visions loss, covert toxocariasis and neurotoxocariasis, which causes brain and spinal cord injuries (meningitis, meningoencephalitis, seizures). All of these clinical manifestations are the most common in young children and teenagers. Soil contact and poor hand hygiene habits (especially before meals) significantly increase the possibility of egg ingestion. Therefore, the most sensitive and high risk group are children. In this publication we will review the dangers of toxocariasis for children health and possible preventive measures.
Keywords: toxocariasis, Toxocara, children, risk, prevention.