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Human Toxocariasis: Prevalence and Factors Associated with Biosafety in Research Laboratories

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  • 1 Laboratory of Parasitology, Faculty of Medicine (FAMED), Area Interdisciplinary Biomedical Sciences (AICB), Federal University of Rio Grande (FURG), Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil.
  • | 2 Laboratory of Parasitology, Department of Microbiology and Parasitology, Institute of Biology, Federal University of Pelotas, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil.

Abstract

Human toxocariasis is a neglected parasitic disease worldwide. Researchers studying this disease use infectious strains of Toxocara for experiments. Health workers are at risk in the course of their daily routine and must adhere to biosafety standards while carrying out the activities. Researchers on biosafety concerning working with these parasites are insufficient. The aim of this study was to determine the rate of seroprevalence of Toxocara species among health-care research laboratory workers (professors, technicians, and students), and to investigate the risk factors of Toxocara infection associated with laboratory practices. This cross-sectional study involved 74 researchers at two federal universities in southern Brazil from February 2014 to February 2015; 29 researchers manipulated infective strains of Toxocara canis (test group) and 45 did not (control group). Serum samples were examined using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Epidemiological data were obtained via a questionnaire containing information about laboratory routine, eating behavior, and contact with dogs. The seroprevalence of anti-T. canis IgG was 14.9% (11/74; 13.8% [4/29] in the test group and 15.6% [7/45] in the control group). Most individuals in the test group correctly understood the primary mode of infection; however, 13.8% did not use gloves while manipulating T. canis eggs. Knowledge of biosafety must be well understood by health-care professionals doing laboratory work with biological agents. To our knowledge, this is the first study to investigate the rate of seroprevalence of IgG against Toxocara spp. among professionals and students who handle infective forms of the nematode T. canis.

Author Notes

* Address correspondence to Gabriela Torres Mattos, Laboratory of Parasitology, Faculty of Medicine (FAMED), Area Interdisciplinary Biomedical Sciences (AICB), University of Rio Grande, Rua General Osório S/N, 96200-190, Centro, Rio Grande, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. E-mail: gastgabi.mattos@gmail.com

Authors' addresses: Gabriela Torres Mattos, Paula Costa dos Santos, Paula de Lima Telmo, and Carlos James Scaini, Laboratory of Parasitology, Faculty of Medicine, Area Interdisciplinary Biomedical Sciences (AICB), Federal University of Rio Grande (FURG), Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, E-mails: gastgabi.mattos@gmail.com, paulavet10@hotmail.com, paulatelmo@gmail.com, and cjscainifurg@gmail.com. Maria Elisabeth Aires Berne, Departamento de Microbiologia e Parasitologia, Universidade Federal de Pelotas, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, E-mail: bernemea@gmail.com.

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