Pets, parasites and people - WDAM - TV 7 - News, Weather and Sports

Pets, parasites and people

We told you about diseases you can get from your cat or dog. But we saved the worst for last: Worms that can attack your pets… and your family.

Some of the most common and scariest sources of zoonotic diseases are parasitic worms. These include tapeworm, hookworm and, most damaging in humans, roundworm.

Roundworm is a parasite that infects puppies and kittens mostly. About one-third of puppies and one-quarter of kittens shed roundworms in their feces.

People can contract that just by petting an infected animal that might have some fecal matter on it. And then that gets on your hands and then if you touch your mouth, you can actually ingest that. Once inside our body, roundworms wreak havoc.

The roundworms in us can actually migrate through the body, and cause actual organ failure in some severe cases. In children, they're probably the highest risk. To prevent parasitic worms, keep your pet de-wormed through annual veterinary visits.

Practicing good personal hygiene may be the best protection of all. Hand washing can get rid of eggs from fecal parasites. Hand washing is really obvious, but it really will help with prevention.

Veterinarian Jessica Walkman also suggests putting your pet on a monthly heartworm preventative medication, even though heartworm is not a zoonotic disease.

"In terms of protecting our pet a little bit more, oftentimes the heartworm preventatives will be able to kill parasitic worms at the same time," says Dr. Walkman.

So while zoonotic diseases can be serious, by practicing good hygiene and pet care, you can keep all the members of your family healthy… two-legged and four-legged alike.

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