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Toxocara in sandpits of public playgrounds and kindergartens in Flanders (Belgium)

Vanhee, Merijn, Dalemans, Anne-Catherine, Viaene, Jasmine, Depuydt, Lies, Claerebout, Edwin
Veterinary Parasitology: Regional Studies and Reports 2015 v.1-2 pp. 51-54
Toxocara, cats, children, dogs, eggs, feces, humans, playgrounds, risk, sand, soil pollution, urban areas, Belgium
Belgium counts more than a million dogs and at least two million cats, of which many are carrying zoonotic nematodes of the genus Toxocara. Environmental contamination with worm eggs is considered the key transmission route from animals to humans, and mainly young children are at risk. Contamination of soil with Toxocara eggs has been reported from all over the world, but data are lacking for Belgium. In this study, faecal contamination and the presence of Toxocara eggs in sand were investigated in sandpits of public playgrounds and kindergartens in Flanders (Northern Belgium). Faeces, of which 85% originated from cats, were found in about one third of the public playgrounds and one fifth of the kindergartens. Toxocara eggs were found in 12% of the faecal samples, in 14% of the public sandpits, and in 2% of the sandpits of kindergartens. These data indicate that environmental contamination with Toxocara exists in urban areas in Belgium, and that cats are most likely the main source.