The following questions about potential health risks intestinal parasites may pose for people are frequently asked at I-20 Animal Medical Center. Understanding the risks and how parasitic infections can be transmitted to people is key to ensuring your family’s health.
What is parasitic zoonosis?
The definition of zoonosis is: “a disease of animals that may be transmitted to man”. Some parasitic infections in pets can be transmitted between animals and people. The most common zoonotic internal parasites in pets are roundworms, tapeworms and hookworms.
Who is at risk?
Young children are especially at risk. Children are not always careful of hygiene, and are likely to play in dirt, grass or sand and then place their fingers or hands in their mouths.
How are these infections transmitted?
Children become infected by playing in soil or sand that is contaminated with fecal matter and then putting their hands or contaminated objects in their mouths. Hookworm larvae can also penetrate the human skin.
When are these parasites a problem?
Internal parasite eggs and larvae are virtually everywhere in the environment and can survive in the soil for years waiting to infect pets or people. Some species thrive in warm climates while others proliferate in colder regions. This is why routine deworming and preventive steps are so important.
Where can I get more information?
It’s easy to keep your family and pets healthy by routinely deworming your pet. Heartworm preventatives protect against heartworms AND intestinal parasites. See your veterinarian for more information on parasites, prevention and the most complete treatment available for your pets.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Association of Veterinary Parasitologists (AAVP) recommend strategic deworming.
How to prevent parasite infection
You can protect your family and pets from parasite infections by following these simple preventive measures.
- Deworm your dog on a regular schedule as recommended by your veterinarian. This removes internal parasites and prevents further contamination of the environment.
- Practice good hygiene. Wash hands regularly, especially after handling pets or cleaning up pet waste.
- Remove pet droppings from your yard at least 2-3 times a week- although daily is best.
- Thoroughly wash fruits and vegetables before eating.
- Keep your pet flea-free. Ingestion of fleas can transmit tapeworms to people.
- Do not allow children to go barefoot, sit or lie on playgrounds or in parks where they are exposed to animal stools. Hookworm larvae can penetrate the skin
- Clean cat litter boxes daily, and wash hands afterward.
- Do not drink water from streams, lakes or other sources that may be contaminated with animal feces.
- Keep pets clean; bathe pet after deworming.
The doctors and staff at I-20 Animal Medical Center are committed to your pet’s health for wellness exams, vaccinations and emergency care. I-20 Animal Medical Center is a 24-hour double accredited (general medicine and emergency/ critical care) AAHA certified hospital. For more information call us at 817-478-9238.