Toxocariasis Fact Sheet

Toxocariasis is a parasitic disease in people caused by infection with a roundworm found in dogs or cats.

What is toxocariasis?

  • Toxocariasis is an infection that can cause serious illness, including organ damage and eye disease.

Who can get toxocariasis?

Anyone. However, some people are at higher risk of infection, including:

  • Children
  • People who accidentally eat dirt
  • Dog or cat owners

How does someone get toxocariasis?

  • Dogs and cats infected with Toxocara shed Toxocara eggs in their feces
  • People become infected by accidentally swallowing dirt that has been contaminated with dog or cat feces that contain Toxocara eggs
  • Although it is rare, people can become infected from eating undercooked meat containing Toxocara larvae
  • The disease is not spread by person-toperson contact like a cold or the flu

What are the symptoms?

  • Many people do not have symptoms and do not ever get sick
  • Some people (usually children) may get sick from the infection, and may have:
    • Fever along with damage to organs in their body, problems breathing, or stomach pain
    • Eye disease that causes vision problems, eye pain, or eye redness

What do I do if I think my child or I might have toxocariasis?

  • You should see a healthcare provider who will examine you or your child. Your provider may take a sample of your blood for testing.

How do I prevent toxocariasis?

  • Teach your kids to wash their hands after playing and not to eat dirt
  • Cover sandboxes and restrict animalaccess to play areas
  • Dispose of dog and cat feces promptly and wash your hands after handling pet waste
  • Take your pets to the veterinarian to prevent infection with Toxocara. Your veterinarian can recommend a testing and treatment plan for deworming


For more information, please visit the toxocariasis website at or contact the Parasitic Diseases Branch Public Inquiries desk at 404-718-4745, or


Page last reviewed: June 11, 2021