Seroprevalence of human toxocarosis in Europe : a review and meta-analysis
Toxocarosis is distributed worldwide and represents the most prevalent zoonotic helminth infection in industrialized countries, thereby posing a substantial risk for public health. Thus, toxocarosis is one of CDC's Neglected Parasitic Infections that has been targeted for public health action. This systematic review and meta-analysis summarizes Toxocara seroprevalence in general populations from Europe, populations suspected of Toxocara infection and defined risk groups. Random-effects meta-analysis of proportions based on 41 publications resulted in an overall seroprevalence of 6.2% (95% CI: 4.7-8.3%) in the general population of Europe. Subgroup analysis according to decades (1970-2010s) revealed a significant increase in seroprevalence, with the highest value (12.4%; 95% CI: 6.5-22.3%) in the 2010s (χ2=17.87, df=4, P=0.001). There were no significant differences between pooled prevalence rates of European sub-regions (χ2=3.01, df=3, P=0.389). Furthermore, meta-analysis of seroprevalence according to age groups, based on data from 22 publications, indicated a significantly higher pooled seroprevalence of 14.9% (95% CI: 8.5-24.8%) in people more than 50 years of age than in younger age cohorts (χ2=8.33, df=2, P=0.016). Occupational groups exposed to contaminated soil and infected animals bear substantial risk for acquiring Toxocara infection. Due to the close link between animal infection and human Toxocara exposure, a "One Health" approach for the prevention of Toxocara infection in both humans and animals is required.