Parasitology Research

, Volume 115, Issue 1, pp 205–209 | Cite as

Environmental contamination with Toxocara eggs and seroprevalence of toxocariasis in children of northeastern Poland

  • Anna Kroten
  • Kacper Toczylowski
  • Bozena Kiziewicz
  • Elzbieta Oldak
  • Artur SulikEmail author
Original Paper


Toxocariasis is a worldwide distributed zoonotic disease. Soil contaminated with Toxocara eggs appears to be the main source of infection for humans. The aim of our study was to estimate the environmental contamination with Toxocara eggs in public areas in northeastern Poland followed by the assessment of seroprevalence of toxocariasis in the children’s population inhabiting the areas. A total of 168 soil samples were collected in June and September from public areas, and 28 from patients’ residences. They were all examined for Toxocara eggs using the centrifugal flotation technique. Two-step serological tests comprising enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and Western blot (WB) were performed in 190 children aged 2–17 without any symptoms of toxocariasis. The positive samples accounted for 36 and 32 % in the urban area, 39 and 18 % in the suburbs, and 39 and 46 % in parks, for June and September, respectively. All the sites located near the patients’ residences with confirmed persistent toxocariasis were found contaminated with Toxocara eggs. A significant drop in the mean number of eggs was noted in the suburbs after summer (0.64 vs 0.18, p < 0.05). High and constant contamination was documented in soil from urban sandboxes and parks. The overall seroprevalence in children tested for toxocariasis was 4.2 % as determined by ELISA and WB (3.0 % in preschool children and 7.7 % in school children). The current study revealed high contamination of public areas in northeastern Poland with Toxocara eggs as well as marked seroprevalence in asymptomatic children. There is an urgent need to introduce and promote preventive health measures to limit spread of toxocariasis.


Toxocara Toxocariasis Children Seroprevalence 



We would like to thank the staff of the Department of General Biology, Medical University of Bialystok, for providing the facilities for the experimental research and for any assistance in this field. This study was supported by Medical University of Bialystok, Poland.


  1. Azam D, Ukpai OM, Said A, Abd-Allah GA, Morgan ER (2012) Temperature and the development and survival of infective Toxocara canis larvae. Parasitol Res 110:649–656CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Blaszkowska J, Wojcik A, Kurnatowski P, Szwabe K (2013) Geohelminth egg contamination of children’s play areas in the city of Lodz (Poland). Vet Parasitol 192:228–233CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Dada BJ (1979) A new technique for the recovery of Toxocara eggs from soil. J Helminthol 53:141–144CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Dado D, Izquierdo F, Vera O, Montoya A, Mateo M, Fenoy S, Galván AL, García S, García A, Aránguez E, López L, del Águila C, Miró G (2012) Detection of zoonotic intestinal parasites in public parks of Spain. Potential epidemiological role of microsporidia. Zoonoses Public Health 59:23–28CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Deutz A, Fuchs K, Auer H, Kerbl U, Aspöck H, Köfer J (2005) Toxocara-infestations in Austria: a study on the risk of infection of farmers, slaughterhouse staff, hunters and veterinarians. Parasitol Res 97:390–394CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Dubná S, Langrová I, Jankovská I, Vadlejch J, Pekár S, Nápravník J, Fechtner J (2007) Contamination of soil with Toxocara eggs in urban (Prague) and rural areas in the Czech Republic. Vet Parasitol 144:81–86CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Dunsmore JD, Thompson RC, Bates IA (1984) Prevalence and survival of Toxocara canis eggs in the urban environment of Perth, Australia. Vet Parasitol 16:303–311CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Finsterer J, Auer H (2013) Parasitoses of the human central nervous system. J Helminthol 87:257–270CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Gawor J, Borecka A, Zarnowska H, Marczyńska M, Dobosz S (2008) Environmental and personal risk factors for toxocariasis in children with diagnosed disease in urban and rural areas of central Poland. Vet Parasitol 155:217–222CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Giacometti A, Cirioni O, Fortuna M, Osimani P, Antonicelli L, Del Prete MS, Riva A, D’Errico MM, Petrelli E, Scalise G (2000) Environmental and serological evidence for the presence of toxocariasis in the urban area of Ancona, Italy. Eur J Epidemiol 16:1023–1026CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Habluetzel A, Traldi G, Ruggieri S, Attili AR, Scuppa P, Marchetti R, Menghini G, Esposito F (2003) An estimation of Toxocara canis prevalence in dogs, environmental egg contamination and risk of human infection in the Marche region of Italy. Vet Parasitol 113:243–252CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Macpherson CN (2013) The epidemiology and public health importance of toxocariasis: a zoonosis of global importance. Int J Parasitol 43:999–1008CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Maikai BV, Umoh JU, Ajanusi OJ, Ajogi I (2008) Public health implications of soil contaminated with helminth eggs in the metropolis of Kaduna, Nigeria. J Helminthol 82:113–118CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Manini MP, Marchioro AA, Colli CM, Nishi L, Falavigna-Guilherme AL (2012) Association between contamination of public squares and seropositivity for Toxocara spp. in children. Vet Parasitol 188:48–52CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Maraghi S, Mazhab Jafari K, Sadjjadi SM, Latifi SM, Zibaei M (2014) Study on the contamination of Abadan public parks soil with Toxocara spp. eggs. J Environ Health Sci Eng 12:86CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  16. Marques JP, Guimarães Cde R, Boas AV, Carnaúba PU, Jd M (2012) Contamination of public parks and squares from Guarulhos (São Paulo State, Brazil) by Toxocara spp. and Ancylostoma spp. Rev Inst Med Trop Sao Paulo 54:267–271CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Mizgajska H (2000) Soil contamination with Toxocara spp. eggs in the Kraków area and two nearby villages. Wiad Parazytol 46:105–110PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Mizgajska H, Jarosz W, Rejmenciak A (2001) Distribution of sources of Toxocara spp. infection in urban and rural environments in Poland. Wiad Parazytol 47:399–404PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Moreira GM, Telmo Pde L, Mendonça M, Moreira AN, McBride AJ, Scaini CJ, Conceição FR (2014) Human toxocariasis: current advances in diagnostics, treatment, and interventions. Trends Parasitol 30:456–464CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Negri EC, Santarém VA, Rubinsky-Elefant G, Giuffrida R (2013) Anti-Toxocara spp. antibodies in an adult healthy population: serosurvey and risk factors in Southeast Brazil. Asian Pac J Trop Biomed 3:211–216CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  21. Nijsse R, Ploeger HW, Wagenaar JA, Mughini-Gras L (2015) Toxocara canis in household dogs: prevalence, risk factors and owners’ attitude towards deworming. Parasitol Res 114:561–569CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Overgaauw PA, van Knapen F (2013) Veterinary and public health aspects of Toxocara spp. Vet Parasitol 193:398–403CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Poeppl W, Herkner H, Tobudic S, Faas A, Mooseder G, Burgmann H, Auer H (2013) Exposure to Echinococcus multilocularis, Toxocara canis, and Toxocara cati in Austria: a nationwide cross-sectional seroprevalence study. Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis 13:798–803CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Rubinsky-Elefant G, Hirata CE, Yamamoto JH, Ferreira MU (2010) Human toxocariasis: diagnosis, worldwide seroprevalences and clinical expression of the systemic and ocular forms. Ann Trop Med Parasitol 104:3–23CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Santarém VA, Pereira VC, Alegre BC (2012) Contamination of public parks in Presidente Prudente (São Paulo, Brazil) by Toxocara spp. eggs. Rev Bras Parasitol Vet 21:323–325CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Shimizu T (1993) Prevalence of Toxocara eggs in sandpits in Tokushima City and its outskirts. J Vet Med Sci 55:807–811CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Smith H, Holland C, Taylor M, Magnaval JF, Schantz P, Maizels R (2009) How common is human toxocariasis? Towards standardizing our knowledge. Trends Parasitol 25:182–188CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Stensvold CR, Skov J, Møller LN, Jensen PM, Kapel CM, Petersen E, Nielsen HV (2009) Seroprevalence of human toxocariasis in Denmark. Clin Vaccine Immunol 16:1372–1373CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  29. Strube C, Heuer L, Janecek E (2013) Toxocara spp. infections in paratenic hosts. Vet Parasitol 193:375–389CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Thomas D, Jeyathilakan N (2014) Detection of Toxocara eggs in contaminated soil from various public places of Chennai City and detailed correlation with literature. J Parasit Dis 38:174–180CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  31. Tiyo R, Guedes TA, Falavigna DL, Falavigna-Guilherme AL (2008) Seasonal contamination of public squares and lawns by parasites with zoonotic potential in southern Brazil. J Helminthol 82:1–6CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Woodhall DM, Eberhard ML, Parise ME (2014) Neglected parasitic infections in the United States: toxocariasis. Am J Trop Med Hyg 90:810–813CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anna Kroten
    • 1
  • Kacper Toczylowski
    • 1
  • Bozena Kiziewicz
    • 2
  • Elzbieta Oldak
    • 1
  • Artur Sulik
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Pediatric Infectious DiseasesMedical University of BialystokBialystokPoland
  2. 2.Department of General BiologyMedical University of BialystokBialystokPoland

Personalised recommendations