Toxocara canis and Toxocara cati are roundworms of dogs and cats that can also infect humans worldwide. Although these parasites do not reach the adult stage in the human host the larvae migrate to different organs and can persist for many years. Migration of larvae through the lungs may result in respiratory distress such as wheezing, coughs, mucous production and hyper-reactivity of the airways. Epidemiological and experimental studies suggest that infection with this helminth contributes to the development of allergic manifestations, including asthma. These findings are however conflicting since in others studies no association between these two immunopathologies has been found. This article reviews information on Toxocara spp. and findings from epidemiological and experimental studies on the association between Toxocara infection and allergic manifestations. In addition, the immunological mechanisms and the factors involved in the helminth allergy-association are discussed.
Keywords: Allergy, asthma, helminths, toxocara, immune responses, Toxocara canis, Toxocara cati, immunological mechanisms, zoonotic infection, hyper-secretion, EPIDEMIOLOGY, ophthalmologic
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