Adv Parasitol. 2020:109:219-231. doi: 10.1016/bs.apar.2020.01.007. Epub 2020 Jan 31.


Human toxocariasis, caused by larvae of the Toxocara spp., is one of the most prevalent zoonosis with a worldwide distribution. Toxocara larvae can cross the blood-brain barrier, invading the central nervous system (CNS), leading to neurotoxocariasis. The clinical presentation consists of a wide spectrum of neurological manifestations such as meningitis, encephalitis, myelitis and cerebral vasculitis, but asymptomatic CNS infection is common. Despite the high seroprevalence, neurotoxocariasis is thought to be rare, even if in many animal models larvae usually migrate to the brain. Indeed, diagnosis of neurotoxocariasis is rarely considered, and the exact prevalence of CNS involvement is still unknown. Diagnosis of neurotoxocariasis is generally based on the detection of specific antibodies to Toxocara excretory-secretory antigens by ELISA in CSF or serum, and clinical and radiological improvement after anthelmintic therapy, but definitive diagnosis is given by histological confirmation, which is rarely available. Treatment is based on anti-helminthic drugs, commonly albendazole, generally administered with concomitant corticosteroids coverage. At the population level, serological studies suggest an association between Toxocara infections and epilepsy, as well as with other neurodegenerative and psychiatric disorders. Nonetheless the possible role of Toxocara spp. in the pathogenesis of these disorders is still matter of debate.

Keywords: Central nervous system; Neurotoxocariasis; Parasitosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Central Nervous System Parasitic Infections / diagnosis
  • Central Nervous System Parasitic Infections / parasitology*
  • Central Nervous System Parasitic Infections / therapy
  • Humans
  • Larva
  • Toxocara
  • Toxocariasis / diagnosis
  • Toxocariasis / parasitology*
  • Toxocariasis / therapy