Did you know that most internal parasites harbored by dogs and cats are zoonotic (transmissible to people)? Children and immunosuppressed adults are the most susceptible, but in the United States alone, over 700 people a year develop partial loss of vision due to roundworm larvae.
Parasites in your pet can lead to severe disease, lowered immune system function, decreased vaccine effectiveness, and poor nutrient absorption. Roundworm eggs from your dog and cat are capable of over wintering in the soil outside and they can then infect your pet in the following spring. As your pet walks in the grass in parks, by the sidewalk, and even in your back yard, your pet can pick up the eggs (that overwintered) on their feet or their fur. While your pet is grooming himself and inadvertently ingests the roundworm eggs, the cycle starts again. Owners can also bring infective eggs home on their footwear, your pet can lick your shoes and the cycle repeats itself. Once ingested roundworms can encyst in muscle and remain there in an inactive state for months or even years. A trauma or illness can “wake up” the cysts and start an active infection. Totally indoor pets may therefore still be at risk.
These concerns have led to the development of deworming guidelines established by the Center for Disease Control (concerned with human health) and the Canadian Parasitology Expert Panel (concerned with human and animal health).
There are a few simple steps you can take to help protect yourself and your family from zoonotic diseases caused by parasites.