To elucidate the pathogenic potential of Toxocara cati, we observed the ophthalmologic changes of the fundi in Mongolian gerbils, Meriones unguiculatus, after oral inoculation of 17 embryonated eggs/g body weight. Ophthalmic conditions in 8 T. cati-infected gerbils were monitored using an ophthalmoscope from day 0 to day 156 and were compared with those of 57 T. canis-infected gerbils. The results showed that T. cati larvae migrated into the eye of the gerbil and then elicited ophthalmic changes, including retinal (25%) and vitreous (50%) hemorrhaging, vasculitis (37.5%), and exudative lesions (25%). Lesions were less prevalent, however, in T. cati-infected than in T. canis-infected gerbils. Unlike in T. canis-infected gerbils, the hemorrhagic lesions did not reappear in T. cati-infected gerbils after they were absorbed. These findings suggested that T. cati larvae are a potentially hazardous pathogen for ocular toxocariasis and that Mongolian gerbils infected with T. cati may be a useful model for the study of human ocular toxocariasis caused by T. cati. This is the first study to report that T. cati larvae can induce ophthalmic lesions in the retina of gerbils.
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