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Migratory pattern of zoonotic Toxocara cati and T. canis in experimentally infected pigs.

BACKGROUND: Over a billion people are infected with Toxocara canis or T. cati, the roundworms of dogs and cats. Historically, T. canis has been considered the main species responsible for human toxocarosis, but as serodiagnosis cannot discriminate between the two species, this remains unresolved. We used pigs as a relevant large animal model for human infection to assess the migratory pattern of T. cati and T. canis.

METHODS: Pigs were inoculated with T. cati or T. canis eggs or PBS (negative controls) and necropsied 14 or 31 days later. Different organs and tissues were examined for parasites and pathological changes.

RESULTS: Overall, the two parasite species had a similar migration pattern reaching multiple organs and tissues, including the mesenteric lymph nodes, liver, lungs, and diaphragm. We recovered larvae of both species in the brain, suggesting that T. cati also can cause neurological toxocarosis in humans. Both species induced systemic eosinophilia and histopathological changes in the lungs, livers, and mesenteric lymph nodes.

CONCLUSION: This study emphasises the importance of T. cati as a zoonotic agent and the need to develop diagnostic methods that can differentiate between sources of infection in humans.

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