is a zoonotic family
of parasitic nematodes
that infect canids
and which cause visceral larva migrans
and ocular larva migrans in humans. The worms are unable to reproduce in humans.
Three important species include:
Infection by T. canis
or T. cati
can cause various clinical manifestations. One of these is visceral larva migrans, wherein the larvae are unable to develop in humans as they do in cats and dogs, their natural hosts. Arrested development leaves the larvae to wander aimlessly in the body, causing inflammation, most commonly in the liver and lungs.
Eggs are introduced into the body through ingestion. This can occur when eggs are deposited on the hands or face, after handling infected dogs or cats. In children without exposure to animals, eggs can be introduced by directly ingesting egg-contaminated soil while playing in a yard or on a playground. Usually, the scenario involves a young child with a new puppy. Unfortunately, many young children who have been infected with these larvae, causing ocular larva migrans in the eye, have been misdiagnosed to have retinoblastoma and have had their eyes erroneously removed. Treatment for ocular larva migrans is to kill the larvae with a laser to prevent further damage, although there will always be some loss of vision in the affected eye.
Direct identification of larvae in human disease is not feasible, so the diagnosis relies on history supported by serologic ELISA
assay. The most sensitive assay, called E/S (excretory/secretory), contains 96 immunogenic antigens isolated from cultured T. canis larvae.