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What Is Toxocariasis?

An infection by worms of the nematode (or roundworm family), which can be passed to human beings by dogs or cats. The worms, Toxocara canis carried by dogs, and Toxocara cati carried by cats, release their eggs in the faeces of the animal, and the eggs incubate in the soil. If the well-incubated eggs are later picked up on the hands of a human being, particularly a child, they may get into the mouth, hatch into larvae and spread throughout the body via the bloodstream. Young children playing in recreation areas are particularly at risk from the infection.

Toxocariasis is usually only a mild illness. Often there are no symptoms and the illness goes unrecognized. It is estimated that 4 percent of the children who play in recreation areas will have been infected, often without knowing it. Very occasionally, toxocariasis can cause serious eye disease possibly leading to blindness.

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