Dogs serve as the most important definitive hosts for Toxocara canis-a causative agent of human toxocariasis and one of the most widespread zoonotic helminth worldwide. The present study was undertaken to assess the global prevalence of T. canis infection in dogs. PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science, EMBASE and SciELO were searched to identify relevant studies. A random-effects model was used to estimate the overall and the subgroup-pooled prevalences across studies, and heterogeneity was assessed via the I2 test. The data were categorized according to WHO-region, different types of dogs, risk factors and environmental variables. From a total of 4370 peer-reviewed publications, 229 articles that studied 13,010,004 dogs in 60 countries met the final inclusion criteria. The overall prevalence of Toxocara infection in dogs was 11.1% (95% CI, 10.6-11.7%). The estimated prevalence in the different WHO-regions ranged from 6.4% to 19.2%: Eastern Mediterranean (19.2%, 13.7-25.5%), Africa (18.5%, 13.7-23.9%), South-East Asia (11.9%, 6.8-18.2%), North America (11.1%, 10.6-11.7%), South America (10.9%, 7.6-14.6%), Europe (10.8%, 8.9-12.9%) and Western Pacific (6.4%, 3.3-10.2%). Young (<1 year of age), stray, rural and male dogs had a significantly (P<0.001) higher prevalence of infection than older, pet, urban or female dogs. The prevalence was higher in low income countries and regions at a low geographical latitude, close to the equator, characterized as having tropical climates. From this review, it is estimated that ≥100 million dogs are infected with Toxocara around the world. This highlights the need for an increased focus on implementing affordable, appropriate control programs to reduce the public health threat of toxocariasis as a zoonosis of global importance.
Keywords: Dog; Global prevalence; Meta-analysis; Toxocara infection.
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