Presence of [i]Toxocara[/i] spp. eggs in children’s recreation areas with varying degrees of access for animals

Anna Wójcik 1,  
Chair of Biology and Medical Parasitology, Medical University in Lodz, Poland
Ann Agric Environ Med 2015;22(1):23–27
[b]Introduction and objective[/b]. The contamination, seasonal and vertical distributions of [i]Toxocara[/i] eggs in children’s recreation areas were estimated with respect to their accessibility to domestic and stray animals. [b]Materials and methods[/b]. During autumn 2011 and spring 2012, a total 88 composite samples of soil/sand (300g each) were taken twice, from 2 depths, from 11 sandpits and 11 play areas situated in the city of Łódź, Poland. From the collected material, 528 samples (20g) were tested using the flotation method. Half the sample sites were secured from access to dogs and cats, while the other half were not. [b]Results[/b]. The difference in the numbers of positive samples from sandpits and playing areas was significant (c 2 = 13.72, p = 0.0002). The highest rate of contamination was observed in poorly-secured play areas (15.8% of positive samples and 1.2 eggs/100 g of soil/sand). The average density of [i]Toxocara[/i] eggs in secured play areas was 6 times less than that found in unsecured areas, while secured sandpits were 3 times less contaminated than those unsecured. The contamination rate was similar in autumn 2011 and spring 2012 (6.4% and 6.8%, respectively). An inverse relationship between the sand/soil depth and number of recovered [i]Toxocara[/i] eggs was observed. Additionally, other intestinal helminth eggs (Ancylostomidae, Ascaris spp., and Trichuris spp.) and oocysts of [i]Isospora[/i] spp. were also detected from soil samples collected from playing fields. [b]Conclusions[/b]. The number of [i]Toxocara[/i] eggs recovered decreased following fence construction around the examined children’s play areas, but it did not sufficiently prevent the contamination by eggs. These data indicate the necessity for educational programmes which should be implemented for the protection of the local child population from zoonotic infection.