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Seroepidemiology of Toxocara Canis infection among primary schoolchildren in the capital area of the Republic of the Marshall Islands

Chung-Jung Fu15, Ting-Wu Chuang34, Huei-Shan Lin5, Chih-Hsiung Wu2, Yung-Ching Liu67, Mailynn K Langinlur8, Min-Yun Lu5, Wesley Wei-Wen Hsiao9 and Chia-Kwung Fan1034*

Author Affiliations

1 Graduate Institute of Biomedical Electronics and Bioinformatics, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan

2 Department of Surgery, Shuang Ho Hospital, Taipei Medical University, New Taipei City, Taiwan

3 Department of Parasitology, College of Medicine, Taipei Medical University, Taipei, Taiwan

4 Center for International Tropical Medicine, College of Medicine, Taipei Medical University, Taipei, Taiwan

5 Superintendent Office, Shuang Ho Hospital, Taipei Medical University, New Taipei City, Taiwan

6 Section of Infectious Diseases, Taipei Medical University Shuang Ho Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan

7 Department of Internal Medicine, School of Medicine, College of Medicine, Taipei Medical University, Taipei, Taiwan

8 Department of Public Health, Ministry of Health, The Republic of the Marshall Islands, Taipei, Taiwan

9 Institute of Atomic and Molecular Sciences, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan

10 Master Program in Global Health and Development, College of Public Health and Nutrition, Taipei Medical University, Taipei, Taiwan

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2014, 14:261  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-14-261

Published: 15 May 2014



Toxocariasis, which is predominantly caused by Toxocara canis (T. canis) infection, is a common zoonotic parasitosis worldwide; however, the status of toxocariasis endemicity in the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) remains unknown.


A seroepidemiological investigation was conducted among 166 primary school children (PSC) aged 7–12 years from the capital area of the RMI. Western blots based the excretory-secretory antigens of larval T. canis (TcES) was employed, and children were considered seropositive if their serum reacted with TcES when diluted at a titer of 1:64. Information regarding demographic characteristics of and environmental risk factors affecting these children was collected using a structured questionnaire. A logistic regression model was applied to conduct a multivariate analysis.


The overall seropositive rate of T. canis infection was 86.75% (144/166). In the univariate analysis, PSC who exhibited a history of feeding dogs at home (OR = 5.52, 95% CI = 1.15–26.61, p = 0.02) and whose parents were employed as nonskilled workers (OR = 2.86, 95% CI = 1.08–7.60, p = 0.03) demonstrated a statistically elevated risk of contracting T. canis infections. Cleaning dog huts with gloves might prevent infection, but yielded nonsignificant effects. The multivariate analysis indicated that parental occupation was the critical risk factor in this study because its effect remained significant after adjusting for other variables; by contrast, the effect of dog feeding became nonsignificant because of other potential confounding factors. No associations were observed among gender, age, consuming raw meat or vegetables, drinking unboiled water, cleaning dog huts with gloves, or touching soil.


This is the first serological investigation of T. canis infection among PSC in the RMI. The high seroprevalence indicates the commonness of T. canis transmission and possible human risk. The fundamental information that the present study provides regarding T. canis epidemiology can facilitate developing strategies for disease prevention and control.

Toxocara canis (T. canis); Western blotting; Primary school children (PSC); Republic of the marshall islands (RMI)