Toxocara spp. are zoonotic parasites with global distribution infecting humans by incidental ingestions of eggs shed in feces of dogs or cats. High seroprevalences have been reported from several regions of Africa, however data from the Central African region remain limited. Although several clinical entities caused by larvae of Toxocara spp. have been described, the public heath impact of this infection has so far often been neglected. This study was conducted to estimate the prevalence in a rural central African population. The population based study was performed in volunteers in a rural region of Gabon. A two-step testing approach was applied using an ELISA as screening test and a Western Blot (immunoblot) as confirmatory assay. Basic demographic data and risk factors were collected and compared between seropositive and negative participants. In total, 199 out of 332 serum samples were tested positive for Toxocara spp. antibodies (59.9%). After standardization for age to the overall Gabonese population seroprevalence was 53.6% (95% CI 48.2-59.0%). There was a trend towards higher seroprevalence in participants with agricultural activity. Seroprevalence of antibodies against Toxocara spp. is high in this rural population in Gabon. These results are comparable with previous reports from other sub-regions of Africa and add to our understanding of the epidemiology of toxocariasis in Africa. Given the high prevalence of toxocariasis in tropical regions, it may be speculated that clinically relevant presentations (e.g. visceral or ocular larva migrans syndrome) may occur in considerable numbers. A formal assessment of the burden of disease and the public health impact of human toxocariasis is therefore warranted.
Keywords: Gabon; Larva migrans visceralis; Seroprevalence; Toxocara; Toxocariasis.
Copyright © 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ireland Ltd.. All rights reserved.