Treating toxocariasis 

For most people, treatment for toxocariasis isn't needed, as the condition often improves on its own.

Treatment is usually only needed in severe cases, where the infection causes organ damage.

Medication is the main treatment in these cases. You can usually be treated at home, but you may need to be admitted to hospital if your symptoms are particularly severe.

Medication

A type of medication called an anthelmintic is the main treatment for severe cases of toxocariasis. These medicines kill the parasite larvae responsible for the infection.

Albendazole is most often used and mebendazole is an alternative.

These medicines don't usually cause side effects, although some people may experience headaches or stomach pain.

In addition to anthelmintics, steroid medications (corticosteroids) are often given to reduce any inflammation caused by a severe infection. 

Steroid medication is used instead of anthelmintics for toxocariasis affecting the eye.

Surgery

Surgery may be recommended in severe cases of toxocariasis where one of your eyes is infected. 

The main types of surgery used include:

  • vitrectomy  where the jelly-like substance that fills the inside of the eye is removed and replaced with a gas or liquid substitute
  • laser photocoagulation  where a laser is used to kill the parasites in the eye

Both these techniques can be carried out using local anaesthetic eye drops to numb your eye and the surrounding area.

Like all surgical procedures, these techniques carry a risk of complications. For example, there's a risk of some degree of permanent vision loss (such as reduced side and night vision). However, the risk of total vision loss in the infected eye from toxocariasis usually outweighs the risk of surgical complications.

Page last reviewed: 10/06/2015

Next review due: 10/06/2017