Toxocara and Ascaris seropositivity among patients suspected of visceral and ocular larva migrans in the Netherlands: trends from 1998 to 2009

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Toxocara canis, Toxocara cati and Ascaris suum are roundworms of dogs, cats and pigs, respectively, that can also infect humans. These zoonotic helminths have a worldwide distribution and are also endemic in the Netherlands. Infection with Toxocara sp. may result in visceral larva migrans (VLM) or ocular larva migrans (OLM) caused by the migrating larvae. Although A. suum has been reported to occasionally mature to the adult stage in humans, clinical cases of VLM suspected to be caused by A. suum have been described. Diagnosis of these helminth infections relies mainly on serology. Here we analyse the results from the Toxocara and Ascaris IgG-ELISA from a total of 2,838 serum samples from VLM and OLM suspected patients that were sent to our institution from 1998 to 2009. Results indicate that for each year the Ascaris seropositivity is significantly higher compared to the Toxocara seropositivity. Furthermore, while Toxocara seropositivity has decreased over time, the Ascaris seropositivity has not significantly changed for the past 12 years. The Ascaris and Toxocara seropositivity was also shown to increases with age and, while gender has no influence on the Ascaris seropositivity, males showed higher Toxocara seropositivity.