September is Parasite Awareness Month
What every owner should know about Parasites.
Dogs and cats of any age get roundworms and hookworms, but they are most vulnerable when they are very young.
You may already have heard that worms often infect puppies and kittens as well as older pets. The most common types of these parasitic worms are ROUNDWORMS and HOOKWORMS. They are both Intestinal parasites. They live and grow inside the intestine of your pet. Roundworms and hookworms develop from eggs into larvae (immature worms) The larvae later mature into adult worms.
ANCYLOSTOMIASIS ( hookworm infection)
Hookworms are relatively common intestinal parasites of dogs, cats, and other animals. Adult worms live in the small intestine, and their eggs pass out with the stool. Diagnosis is by identifying the eggs during microscopic examination of the stool.
Animals become infected with worms by eating infective eggs or larvae, penetration of the skin or footpads by larvae, or transmission of larvae from the mother while the fetus is still in the uterus.
HOOKWORMS are one of the most serious intestinal parasites, as they feed on the blood of their host animal and can cause severe anemia.
PUBLIC HEALTH SIGNIFICANCE
Hookworms larvae can penetrate human skin and cause a skin disorder known as cutaneous larval migrans or creeping eruption. This infection is not common, but anyone who develops a skin rash after being in contact with a pet with hookworms should consult a physician.
Coccidiosis is a parasite disease of the intestinal tract caused by microscopic organisms call COCCIDIA. The disease spreads from one animal to another by contact with infected feces. It is most severe in young or weak animals and often causes bloody diarrhea. The disease is not a threat to humans.
Strongyloides stercoralis is a small roundworm found in cats, dogs, foxes, and occasionally people. The worms are about 1/16 of an inch long and live in the intestinal lining. Eggs hatch while still in the intestine. Larvae are passed in the feces and can reinfect the host animal or others by being eaten or by skin penetration.
Loss of appetite, cough, discharge from eyes, and later development of diarrhea are signs of infection. The disease lowers resistance to other infections and may resemble or occur with canine distemper.
People are usually infected by larvae that penetrate the bare feet as a person walks through contaminated soil. The larvae travel to the lungs via the bloodstream and then are passed into the feces within 2 to 3 weeks.
ASCARIASIS ( Roundworms)
Roundworms are the most common intestinal parasite of dogs and cats. Pets become infected by swallowing roundworm eggs or larvae found in the contaminated soil or feces or by eating infected rodents, birds and certain insects.
PUBLIC HEALTH SIGNIFICANCE
Human infection with roundworm larvae is possible but does not occur frequently if good hygiene is practiced.