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Toxocariasis (visceral larva migrans, ocular larva migrans) is a widely under-reported parasitic infection caused by the migrating larvae of the nematode roundworms Toxocara canis and, less commonly, Toxocara cati. These parasites are found distributed throughout the tropical and temperate regions of the world. Toxocara is transmitted from dogs or cats to humans through contact with faecal matter containing unembryonated eggs. Human to human infection does not occur. Studies from several countries have shown human infection rates of 2-8% in the general population, rising to 23% in certain groups such as dog breeders and kindergarten children.
Toxocariasis comes in two forms, visceral larva migrans and ocular larva migrans. The relatively rare visceral form causes swelling of the body's organs and central nervous system. The ocular form is an eye disease which can lead to blindness - parasites enter the eye and causes inflammation and scarring on the retina, possibly leading to permanent vision impairment.
Fresh faecal matter is not infective, as the Toxocara eggs require 2-5 weeks maturation in soil to become infectious. In this regard, the high level of environmental contamination is a matter of some concern, with up to 24% of soil samples from public places in North America and Europe containing Toxocara eggs.
The Cellabs Toxocara CELISA is designed to detect antibodies to Toxocara canis excretory-secretory (ES) antigen, produced during infection in humans. Such antibodies occur soon after infection and rise to detectable levels.