Did you know that two of the most common intestinal parasites often carried by dogs and cats can be transmitted to humans too? Roundworms and hookworms are intestinal parasites that can be detected in dogs or cat at any stage of life, even as early as 3 weeks of age!
Many pets don’t show any sign of infection. However, some may exhibit signs of vomiting, loss of appetite, or severe weight loss. Heavy intestinal parasite infections in a young animal can be fatal. Roundworms and hookworms shed their eggs intermittently. This means it is possible to have a ‘negative’ stool sample one day and a positive sample the next day. Mountain View Veterinary Services recommends checking a fecal sample yearly on adult dogs and cats. Puppies and kittens should have a fecal checked until there are 2 negative samples in a row.
If your pet tests positive for roundworms or hookworms, you and your family are at a higher risk for contracting these parasites. The eggs and larvae (immature worms) passed in your pet’s feces are very resilient. People become infected through direct contact, of infected feces. Transmission is usually fecal – oral, meaning you have infected feces on your hands and you ingest the fecal material. Children are more vulnerable due to their underdeveloped hygiene skills and routines of playing in public parks, sand boxes and even the back yard. It is important to teach children to wash their hands after playing outdoors or handling animals.
Once ingested, the roundworm eggs hatch into larvae and travel through your body’s organs. Your body’s immune system will most likely step in and fight off the these parasites. However, in some cases, these larvae migrate to the eye! A condition called visceral larval migrans which can lead to permanent eye damage including blindness! Cutaneous larval migrans are hookworm larvae that may circulate within the skin causing inflammation. Certain types of hookworms can penetrate into deeper tissues causing intestinal or organ damage.
You can protect your family and yourself by washing your hands after handling soil, sand and pets. Teach your children to wash their hands before they eat. Follow the recommended deworming protocols for your pet. Monthly heartworm preventative is a great way to control the spread of roundworms and hookworms in the environment!
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