Toxocariasis and lung function: relevance of a neglected infection in an urban landscape

Acta Parasitol. 2014 Mar;59(1):126-31. doi: 10.2478/s11686-014-0221-7. Epub 2014 Feb 26.


Toxocariasis has been highlighted as a potentially important neglected infection of poverty in developed countries that experience substantive health disparities such as the United States. An association between Toxocara infection and lung function, in concert with a relatively high prevalence of infection, may mark an important mechanism by which this infection could contribute significantly to the differential morbidity across different socioeconomic groups and landscapes. To assess the potential relevance of this infection in a dense urban environment, we measured the association between forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV₁) and serology diagnosed Toxocara infection in a sample of US-born New York City residents. We identified a significant independent association between Toxocara infection and lung function, wherein those with previous Toxocara infection had a 236.9 mL reduced FEV₁ compared to those without Toxocara infection even after adjusting for age, sex, ethnicity, level of education, smoking status, body mass index, and pet ownership. These findings from New York City corroborate similar findings in a national sample and, while the cross-sectional data preclude a direct causal relationship, this study identifies a potentially important neglected infection in a dense urban landscape.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Forced Expiratory Flow Rates*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • New York City / epidemiology
  • Population Surveillance
  • Prevalence
  • Serologic Tests
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Toxocara
  • Toxocariasis / epidemiology*
  • Toxocariasis / pathology*
  • Urban Population*