If you have children and you have dogs, you should be aware of certain illnesses your dogs can pass on to your children. While most diseases are not transferrable from animals to humans, few can be and you should be aware lest parasites infect your children with detriment to their quality of life.
Roundworm is a common parasite found in dogs. Roundworm is often found in puppies but dogs at all stages of life could be infected.
Roundworms are intestinal parasites of the dog. They live in the intestines. Puppies with roundworm infection often have a bloated, pot-bellied appearance. Vomiting and diarrhea are classic signs. In severe cases, roundworm infection can create intestinal blockages.
Life Cycle of the Roundworm
- An infected dog sheds roundworm eggs in its stool. (Fresh feces is not infectious. Contaminated soil is infectious.)
- The eggs mature in the natural environment (on grass and soil).
- A dog or intermediate host such as a mouse or squirrel eats the matured eggs.
- The larval roundworms migrate to the intestines to complete their life cycle.
Monthly treatment is the prescribed method of controlling these parasites. It usually comes in the form of a pill such as HeartGard or Interceptor. The medicine anesthetizes the worms so they let go of the intestines and the dog passes them in its stool. Because the medicine does not actually kill the worms in the animal’s system, a follow up treatment is often required for new worms arriving in the intestine.
Infection in Humans
Children become easily infected with roundworm when they play outside in contaminated soil. As they get dirt on their hands and under their fingernails, it doesn’t take much effort to swallow an egg. Simply touching their dirty fingers to their mouth can introduce the parasite into their system.
Because human infection “confuses” the worms, they are restless and never find a home in the human intestines. Instead, the roundworms migrate to other parts of the body and often wind up in the eyes. If a roundworm dies in the eye, it can cause blindness.
How you can be proactive
- Put your pet on a monthly treatment regimen for roundworms.
- Keep on top of cleaning up poop from your yard. If you don’t have time for this necessary chore, hire a professional to do the dirty work for you.
- Teach your children good hygiene habits. Always encourage them to wash their hands after playing outside or petting the dog.