Simply put, Zoonotic (zoe-o-NOT-ick) Diseases are infections that can be passed from pet to person. As veterinary professionals, we feel obligated to inform all pet owners that their families can contract certain diseases from their companion animals.
Hookworms & Roundworms
Intestinal worms often infect puppies and kittens as well as older pets. The most common types of these parasites are roundworms and hookworms. They live and grow inside the intestine of your pet.
Most pets show no sign of infection, but some do. Symptoms of intestinal parasite infection include vomiting, loss of appetite, and severe weight loss. Heavy infections in kittens and puppies can be fatal.
Dogs and cats of any age can become infected with hookworms and roundworms. Often, the parasites are passed from a mother to her puppies before birth or through her milk.
From Pet to Person
Dogs and cats that are infected with hookworms and roundworms can contaminate their surroundings by passing eggs or larvae in their feces. The eggs are resilient and can survive areas such as parks, playgrounds, and yards. Even inside homes.
People get hookworm and roundworm infections through direct contact with infected feces. Often, this occurs through chance ingestion of contaminated soil, sand or plant life. Children are more vulnerable to infection because they play on the ground and in dirt and are more likely to put dirty objects in their mouths.
Roundworms & People
Roundworms enter the body when ingested as eggs that soon hatch into larvae. These larvae travel through the liver, lungs, and other organs. In most cases, they cause no symptoms or apparent damage. However, in some cases they produce a condition known as visceral larva migrans. The larvae may cause damage to tissue and sometimes affect the nerves or even lodge in the eye. In some cases, they may cause permanent nerve or eye damage.
Hookworms & People
Hookworm larvae typically move about within the skin, causing inflammation in the affected skin. This is called cutaneous (skin) larva migrans. One type of hookworm can burrow deeper into the tissue and cause more serious damage to the intestine and other organs.
Protecting Your Pets & Your Family
- Have puppies and kittens dewormed by your veterinarian at an early age
- Start or keep your pets on a preventative drug program that treats and controls these worms (Heartworm Preventatives like TriHeart Plus & Interceptor)
- Have your pet’s stool tested annually for intestinal parasites
- Keep play areas, lawns, and gardens around your home free of animal waste
— Janni Kimble, RiverWoods Pet Hospital