Toxocariasis in the United States and the Burden of Neglected Disease: Public Health Policies For Increasing Awareness and Prevention

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Committee Members: Dr. James Plumb, Thomas Jefferson University; Dr. Susan Montgomery, CDC; Dr. Mona Sarfaty, Thomas Jefferson University.


Toxocariasis is a helminthic zoonotic disease caused by two parasitic worm species that has been shown to exist in both animals and humans within the United States. It is capable of causing serious complication in human hosts, and recently its prevalence has been thought to be greatly underestimated among human populations within the US. The general lack of knowledge of the disease is a concern that has been addressed by the neglected disease, veterinary, and medical communities. Due to the limited number of studies that exist within the United States on toxocariasis, it is the goal of this study to examine the data existing on the disease to date within the US, to identify the gaps that exist in the knowledge of the disease, and to then determine how to improve the research, understanding, and treatment of the disease through effective policy. This was accomplished through in depth literature analysis in addition to key informant interviews with researchers and professionals in the medical, veterinary, and public health fields. This research stresses the importance of collaborative efforts between medical, veterinary, and public health disciplines to improve research and awareness in addition to determining how to effectively treat, diagnose, and prevent toxocariasis in the United States. It is through such efforts that the knowledge on the subject will expand and education of both professionals and the public about its clinical burden can successfully occur.