Frequency of enteroparasitic infections and serum positivity for Toxocara spp. in children from a public day care center in Southern Brazil

Abstract Introduction Day care centers play an important social role in children’s early education and development. The objective of this study was to investigate the frequency of intestinal parasitic infections and infection with Toxocara spp. in children from a day care center in the city of Rio Grande, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. Methods: The study was conducted using fecal samples from 50 children, ages three to six years, using Ritchie, Faust, Rugai, and Kinyoun’s techniques. A closed and structured epidemiological questionnaire was used to collect data from the parents/guardians of the children. Serological studies for detection of antibodies to Toxocara spp. by immunoenzymatic assays using Toxocara excretion and secretion antigen (TES) were conducted on sera collected from 41 children. Results: The frequency of enteroparasites was 18%, with 43.9% of the children testing seropositive for Toxocara spp. Low family income and low literacy levels of parents/guardians were common factors between the families of the parasite-positive children. For the children who tested positive for Toxocara spp., most of the parents/guardians reported using only water for sanitizing raw vegetables and fruits. Conclusions: The high seropositivity rates for Toxocara spp. indicate that children were exposed to this parasite, and it is important to reduce the risk of infection. In addition, the seropositivity for enteroparasites and the interviews with the parents/guardians indicate the need to educate the studied population regarding the modes of intestinal parasite transmission and the prophylactic measures needed to prevent their dissemination.