Human toxocariasis is caused by the nematode, Toxocara canis and it is a poorly understood phenomenon in Nigeria. Seroepidemiological studies have not been previously carried out among the preschool aged children in Nigeria. A cross-sectional study was conducted in pre-school children in four communities from Osun State, Nigeria between January and July 2016. A total of 308 children Aged 9 months and 5 years were studied comprising 53.2% (164/308) male and 46.8% (144/308) female. Blood samples were collected and screened for the presence of anti-Toxocara IgG antibodies by Western blot analysis based on the excretory-secretory antigens of larva T. canis (TcES), targeting low molecular weight bands of 24 − 35 kDa specific for T. canis. Questionnaires were given to parents/guardians of the studied children to collect information regarding relationship between infection and host factors. The overall seroprevalence of Toxocara infection was 37.3%. The seroprevalence in the studied preschool children ranged from 18.2% in children less than one year old to a max of 57.6% in children aged 3 years and above. The logistic regression analysis of risk factors showed that children's age (odds ratio (OR) = 6.12, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.25–29.90, p = 0.02), contact with dogs (OR = 3.17, 95% CI = 1.40–7.20, p = 0.01) and parent's religion (OR = 0.54, 95% CI = 0.32–0.91, p = 0.02) were the risk factors associated with Toxocara infection. However, after adjustment by multivariate logistic regression analysis, contact with dogs (p = 0.02) remained the only statistically significant risk factor. Preschool children were exposed early in life to T. canis infection as 18.18% of children less than one year old were infected. This is the first serological investigation of T. canis infection among preschool children in Nigeria. The results show high levels of exposure to T. canis infection among the studied group and contact with the dog plays the predominant risk factor. It indicates high transmission with the consequent of visceral or ocular larva migrans and neurologic disorder in these children. The results also provide baseline data for effective prevention strategies of toxocariasis in Southwest Nigeria and the study recommends prompt interventional measures, particularly health education on personal hygiene.
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