Parasite Testing & How to Prevent Transmission

Parasite Testing & How to Prevent Transmission of Parasites to People

Part 1 - Recommendations for Veterinarians

The government wants vets to treat your dog and cat for parasites periodically even if we do not know if he or she currently has them. Your pet can be checked for parasites, but often tests will not find parasites even if they are present.

The government wants vets to give medicine to dogs and cats for your health. Non-pesticide, non-arsenic parasite preventatives for dogs and cats have been shown to be safe and effective in eliminating not only those parasites you can get from your pet, but other parasites that pets can suffer from that can even cause death.

We think prevention of parasites before they cause disease is a good idea for you and your family. It is also a good idea for pets not confined to the house. However, for pets strickly confined to the house you may be able to avoid the annual test for parasites.

Part 2 - How To Prevent Transmission of Intestinal Roundworms from Pets to People

These guidelines address transmission of intestinal ascarids and hookworms from dogs and cats to people and recommend counseling of dog and cat owners and well-timed preventive anthelmintic treatments for pets.

Ascarids and Hookworms
Ascarids (Toxocara spp.) and hookworms (Ancylostoma spp. and Uncinaria stenocephala), the common intestinal roundworms of dogs and cats, can cause larva migrans syndromes in persons who accidentally ingest eggs or larvae or have direct skin contact with hookworm larvae in soil contaminated with the feces of infected animals.

Pups and kittens are often infected by transfer of larvae from their dams in utero (T. canis) or via milk (A. caninum, T. cati, and to a lesser extent, T. canis),[1,2} and the tissue-migrating and early intestinal stages of these worms may cause severe, sometimes life-threatening, disease in the first few weeks of the animal's life. Furthermore, pups and kittens may have patent intestinal infections as early as the first 2 (hookworms) to 3 (ascarids) weeks of life, and may contaminate their environment with huge numbers of infective eggs and larvae.

The prevalence of these infections varies with climatic conditions; however, they are present in all parts of the contiguous United States and must be viewed as a potential public health hazard.

Zoonotic Transmission and Human Disease
When zoonotic ascarids and hookworms infect humans, the parasites rarely mature in the intestine; rather, the larval worms migrate in the host's tissues (larva migrans). The characteristics of the particular tissues and organs in which the larvae migrate determine the signs and symptoms humans have.