Intestinal Parasites


What is Zoonosis?

Zoonotic diseases, in this case are parasites and  intestinal parasites that are transmittable to humans.   Those that are most susceptible, but are not the only ones who are limited to getting infected, are small children, the elderly, and those that are immune compromised.

What are some of the zoonotic intestinal parasites?

One of the most common intestinal parasite in humans as well as in dogs is Giardia, which can be passed from your pet to you. Giardia is transmitted by swallowing the parasite through contaminated animal feces   In pets and in people, clinical signs often include abdominal pain, bloating, vomiting, nausea and diarrhea. In dogs however, studies have shown that 11% of dogs infected showed no signs of illness at the time they were routinely tested.

Roundworms live in the gastrointestinal tract and are most common in puppies and kittens due to the fact that a infected mother can pass this parasites to their young in the womb. This infection can be contracted from ingestion of the parasite usually from a contaminated surface. For example, a cat or dog can be contaminated on its hair coat, and then goes to groom itself, therefore ingesting the parasite. Toxicara, a type of roundworm, in most cases cause no clinical signs, however it has the capability of causing blindness and other severe systemic illness.

Hookworms are contracted by penetration of the skin in people, however in animals, the most likely way of getting infected is through ingestion. For people, any area of exposed skin can be a welcoming mat for these tiny creatures. This parasite burrows into the skin and can make its way to the gastrointestinal tract causing diarrhea, and severe abdominal pain.

Toxoplasmosis is primarily caused by cats, however other animals can carry the parasite that eats rodents or birds or other small animals. The parasite is passed through contaminated feces at which they can shed millions of Toxoplasmosis eggs for as long as 3 weeks after infection. The most common clinical signs seen in a cat can be lethargy, loss of appetite, and fever but can be more as seizure activity and personality changes. For people, clinical signs include flu like symptoms and swollen lymph nodes. Pregnant women should use caution when handing cat feces such as cleaning out a litter pan as Toxoplasmosis can spread to the baby causing severe damaging effects threatening the baby’s life.

What can I do to protect my pet and family?

The number one way to be sure is to have routine fecal tests done on your adult pet annually. For a young pet less than a year, testing twice a year is recommended. Having your dog on routine heartworm and intestinal parasite prevention such as Sentinel Spectrum can also prevent against hookworm, roundworm and tapeworm infections. Routine deworming can also be preformed by your veterinarian.

Make sure to wash your hands after contact with a pet, especially small childen. Clean up feces from the yard and avoid areas soiled with animal feces. Don’t allow your pet to eat raw meats.