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 they self-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.
So, how do you protect you and your family from worms? Simple. Keep your pets worm free by worming them every 3 months (more frequently if younger than 6 months). Having a worm free pet will protect your family from these worms. All you need is an over the counter tablet from the practice! Tablets sold at the practice also cover the sub species of worm and will only set you back around $15 every 3 months for a medium size dog.
If you have any questions or concerns about intestinal worms, don’t hesitate to contact one of our nurses. Our nurses are parasite guru’s and are happy to help you at any time.