Did you know that worms carried by our pets can infect people too! This is called a ‘zoonotic’ problem. The worms we are talking about are the types that we commonly associate with causing problems in the gastrointestinal tract of dogs and cats. Worms are transferred between animals when they come into contact with infected animal faeces, where the worms shed out either eggs or larvae.Pets are often infected when theyself groom, or sniff around at the droppings of other animals. Actual worm segments or worm eggs can be ingested (eaten), or worm eggs can drop onto the soil and grass, larvae then hatch and can be ingested by another animal. Once in the gastrointestinal tract, they can then further develop their lifecycle and grow inside the pet. Each type of worm has a different lifecycle and can cause various problems in our pets and also to ourselves. Here’s a list of some of the nasties.
- Roundworm: People can be contaminated when they have contact with the dog faeces or contaminated soil and can have clinical signs such as abdominal pain, liver disease and even blindness!
- Hookworm: People can develop itchy skin sores and occasional diarrhoea if they become infected.
- Hydatid Tapeworm: People are infected after ingesting contaminated soil or by accidentally ingesting eggs from a dog’s coat. Symptoms include abdominal pain, enlargement, vomiting, allergies and respiratory or brain disease. Between 80-100 Australians are diagnosed annually! This is serious and potentially fatal. Infection with tapeworm eggs causes cysts to form in vital organs such as the liver and lungs.