More than one in 10 people infected with Toxocara, CDC reports


Veterinarians play key role in educating and protecting pet owners.

Almost 14 percent of the U.S. population is infected with Toxocara, a parasite of dogs and cats that can be passed from pets to people, according to a Centers for Disease Control study. The study looked at a representative sample of the U.S. population and shows that Toxocara infection is more common than many people previously thought.

Although most people infected with Toxocara have no symptoms, the parasite is capable of causing blindness and other systemic illness. Transmission of Toxocara is most common in young children and youth under age 20. Non-Hispanic blacks have the infection more than Mexican Americans and non-Hispanic whites of all age groups. Kids are more likely to be infected since they tend to play in areas frequented by dogs and cats. Dog ownership was associated with infection.

The CDC recommends the following prevention measures for you to pass on to your clients:

• Keep the dog or cat-especially puppies and kittens-under a veterinarian's care for early and regular deworming.

• Clean up after the pet and dispose of stool.

• Keep pets' play area clean.

• Wash hands after playing with dogs or cats.

• Keep children from playing in areas where animals have soiled.

• Cover sandboxes to keep animals out.

• Don't let children eat dirt.

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