§ Mr. Levitt
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what assessment he has made of the incidence of toxocariasis in rural areas compared to urban areas. 
§ Ms Jowell
I have been asked to reply.
The data available on numbers of cases of human toxocariasis are based on laboratory reports received by the Public Health Laboratory Service's Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre (CDSC). However, reporting of cases is not a statutory requirement and therefore not all laboratory diagnosed cases are necessarily reported to the CDSC.602W
From the data received by CDSC in recent years no significant change has been noted in the number of reports (1993–25; 1994–25; 1995–38; 1996–19; 1997–18).
The location of the laboratory reporting an infection does not necessarily indicate the area of residence of the patient, or whether this is urban or rural, or the country (United Kingdom or overseas) in which infection was acquired.