Epilepsy and toxocariasis: a case-control study in Italy

Epilepsia. 2008 Apr;49(4):594-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1528-1167.2007.01432.x. Epub 2007 Nov 21.


Purpose: To assess the relationship between epilepsy and toxocariasis in adult subjects by means of a case-control study in Catania, Italy.

Methods: People with epilepsy (PWE) were randomly selected from the database of the center of epilepsy of our department. Epilepsy was diagnosed according to the definition proposed by the International League Against Epilepsy. One healthy control per each case was selected among subjects who went to the central laboratory for a hematological check. Control subjects underwent a complete neurological examination to exclude the presence of neurological disorders. PWE and controls were assessed serologically for antibodies against Toxocara canis (T. canis) by an immunoblotting assay.

Results: Two hundred thirty-one PWE (110 men and 121 women) and 201 controls (126 men and 75 women) were enrolled in the study. Of the 231 PWE, 152 presented partial seizures. Antibodies anti-T. canis were found in 38 PWE (16.4%) and in 13 controls (6.6%) giving a crude OR of 2.85 (95% CI 1.47-5.51). Adjusted OR estimated by logistic regression was 3.90 (95% CI 1.91-7.98). This association was mainly due to a significant association between Toxocara antibodies and partial epilepsy (adjusted OR 4.69; 95% CI 2.24-9.80), while a positive, but not significant, association was found with generalized seizures (adjusted OR 1.74; 95% CI 0.60-5.05).

Conclusion: We found a significant association between T. canis seropositivity and epilepsy and a stronger association was found with partial epilepsy. Our finding suggests that toxocariasis may increase the risk of epilepsy.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Animals, Domestic / immunology
  • Antibodies, Helminth / analysis
  • Antibodies, Helminth / immunology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Comorbidity
  • Dogs
  • Epilepsies, Partial / epidemiology
  • Epilepsies, Partial / immunology
  • Epilepsy / diagnosis
  • Epilepsy / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoblotting
  • Immunoglobulin G / analysis
  • Immunoglobulin G / immunology
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Risk Factors
  • Sampling Studies
  • Seroepidemiologic Studies
  • Toxocara canis / immunology
  • Toxocariasis / epidemiology*
  • Toxocariasis / immunology


  • Antibodies, Helminth
  • Immunoglobulin G