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Open AccessArticle

An Integrated Study of Toxocara Infection in Honduran Children: Human Seroepidemiology and Environmental Contamination in a Coastal Community

Department of Health Sciences, Brock University, St. Catharines, ON L3S 2A1, Canada
Department of Parasitology, School of Microbiology and Institute of Microbiology Research, National Autonomous University of Honduras, Tegucigalpa, Honduras
Niagara Falls Animal Medical Centre, Niagara Falls, ON L2E 6Z8, Canada
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Trop. Med. Infect. Dis. 2020, 5(3), 135;
Received: 22 June 2020 / Revised: 18 August 2020 / Accepted: 20 August 2020 / Published: 23 August 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue One Health and Neglected Tropical Diseases)
(1) Background: Infections caused by Toxocara canis and T. cati are considered zoonoses of global importance. Reports from North and South America indicate that human infections are widespread in both continents, but epidemiological information from Central America is still lacking. (2) Methodology: In the present cross-sectional multi-year study, we aimed to undertake the first seroepidemiological and environmental study on toxocariasis in Honduras. This included the determination of seroprevalence of anti-Toxocara spp. antibodies in children using a Toxocara spp. purified excretory-secretory antigens enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (TES-ELISA) and a confirmatory Western blot. As well, through statistical analysis including logistic regression we aimed at identifying relevant biological and epidemiological factors associated with seropositivity. The study also entailed detection of parasites’ eggs in the soil samples both through Sheather’s concentration method and a nested polymerase chain reaction-restriction fragment length polymorphism (PCR-RFLP) method. (3) Results: The study was undertaken in a coastal community of Honduras in 2 different years, 2015 and 2017. A total of 88 healthy schoolchildren completed the study, with participation of 79% (73/92) and 65% (46/71) of the student body in 2015 and 2017, respectively. Thirty-one children participated in both years (i.e., dual participants). Through both serological tests, seropositivity was confirmed in 88.6% (78/88) of children. Due to the high number of seropositives, logistic regression analysis was not possible for most socio-economic and epidemiological variables. Eosinophilia, on the other hand, was associated with seropositivity, independently of other intestinal helminthic infections. Continued seropositivity was observed in most of the dual participants, while seroconversion was determined in 8 of these children. Microscopic examination of soil samples did not yield any positive results. Through nested PCR-RFLP, 3 of the 50 samples (6%) were positive for Toxocara spp.; two were identified as T. canis and one as T. cati. (4) Conclusions: This work documents for the first time, high levels of human exposure to Toxocara spp. in Honduras. These findings, along with the country’s favorable epidemiological conditions for this zoonosis, emphasize the need for more research to determine whether this infection is underreported in the country. View Full-Text
Keywords: Toxocara; toxocariasis; zoonosis; seroepidemiology; neglected tropical diseases; Honduras Toxocara; toxocariasis; zoonosis; seroepidemiology; neglected tropical diseases; Honduras
MDPI and ACS Style

Hernández, S.A.; Gabrie, J.A.; Rodríguez, C.A.; Matamoros, G.; Rueda, M.M.; Canales, M.; Mergl, R.; Sanchez, A. An Integrated Study of Toxocara Infection in Honduran Children: Human Seroepidemiology and Environmental Contamination in a Coastal Community. Trop. Med. Infect. Dis. 2020, 5, 135.

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