Neglected parasitic infections: what every family physician needs to know

Am Fam Physician. 2014 May 15;89(10):803-11.


Neglected parasitic infections, including Chagas disease, toxocariasis, cysticercosis, and toxoplasmosis, affect millions of persons in the United States. Relatively few resources have been devoted to surveillance, prevention, and treatment of these diseases. Chagas disease primarily affects Latin American immigrants and can cause heart failure and death if not treated. Immediate antiparasitic treatment is indicated for most patients with acute Chagas disease. Treatment is recommended for patients younger than 18 years who have chronic Chagas disease and is generally recommended for adults younger than 50 years who do not have advanced cardiomyopathy; treatment decisions for other patients should be made on an individual basis. Toxocariasis primarily affects children and can cause gastrointestinal, respiratory, and ophthalmologic disease. Treatment options include albendazole and mebendazole. Patients with ocular infection require referral to an ophthalmologist. Neurocysticercosis, a form of cysticercosis, is the most common infectious cause of seizures in some parts of the United States. Initial treatment should focus on symptom control. Humans generally acquire toxoplasmosis by eating undercooked contaminated meat or ingesting things that have been contaminated with cat feces. Congenital infection can result in miscarriage or adverse fetal effects. Treatment is recommended for immunosuppressed persons, pregnant women, and immunocompetent persons with severe symptoms.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antiparasitic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Chagas Disease / diagnosis
  • Chagas Disease / drug therapy
  • Chagas Disease / epidemiology
  • Cysticercosis / diagnosis
  • Cysticercosis / drug therapy
  • Cysticercosis / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Neglected Diseases / diagnosis
  • Neglected Diseases / drug therapy
  • Neglected Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Parasitic Diseases / diagnosis
  • Parasitic Diseases / drug therapy
  • Parasitic Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Physicians, Family / education*
  • Toxocariasis / diagnosis
  • Toxocariasis / drug therapy
  • Toxocariasis / epidemiology
  • Toxoplasmosis / diagnosis
  • Toxoplasmosis / drug therapy
  • Toxoplasmosis / epidemiology
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Antiparasitic Agents