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Zoonotic disease
Human toxocariasis and neutering cats
  1. Ian Wright
  1. ESCCAP Secretariat, Malvern Hills Science Park, Malvern, Worcestershire WR14 3SZ
  1. email: info{at}esccap.org

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Human toxocariasis is a debilitating zoonotic disease, with Toxocara canis and Toxocara cati worms being a source of infective eggs in the environment from which human infection through ingestion can occur.

Toxocariasis is recognised by the World Health Organization as a neglected global zoonosis and infection can lead to visceral or ocular damage through larval migration. It is also a risk factor for chronic syndromes such as epilepsy and cognitive dysfunction.1 Although Public Health England only records a handful of confirmed cases in the UK each year, the non-specific signs and non-notifiable status of human toxocariasis means that many chronically debilitating cases are likely to be missed.

Fig 1: Unplanned kittens add to the cat population, potentially increasing the burden of Toxocara in the environmentPhotograph: S. Jarvis

One of the often overlooked sources of environmental contamination with Toxocara egg is stray cats. Cats with outdoor access, if not …

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