Are you providing the zoonotic transmission safeguards to protect both your family and your pet?
PARASITIC ZOONOSES are diseases primarily of animals that can be transmitted to people. The growing popularity of cats and dogs and the high rate of parasitic (worm) infections have resulted in widespread soil contamination from infected eggs and larvae. Since children often play outside, they are the most at risk for disease transmission. Zoonotic disease in humans can lead to abdominal pain, skin irritations, neurological problems and vision loss. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 10,000 cases of human roundworm infection occur each year and more than 700 result in vision loss.
Parasites You Must Be Aware Of
ROUNDWORMS – This parasite is very common in our pet population and is also a human health concern. Signs of a roundworm infection may include diarrhea, vomiting, stunted growth, rough coat and bloated belly. However, some pets may be asymptomatic and show no signs of infection.
TAPEWORMS – This parasite is also very common in our pet population. Tapeworm infections normally occur when your pet eats fleas, mice, or rats that carry the tapeworm larvae. Tapeworms do not generally cause any outward signs of disease. An infection may cause your pet to sit down and drag its rear along the ground.
HOOKWORMS – One way in which your pet can become infected with hookworms is by ingesting soil that has been contaminated by the stool of an infected animal. Hookworm eggs are deposited in the stool, and the soil becomes contaminated. If your pet comes into contact with an area of soil such as this, simple grooming afterwards could be the start of a hookworm infection. The second way that your pet could develop a hookworm infection takes the first way a step further. If these hookworm eggs that are in the soil develop into larvae, the larvae can penetrate your pet’s paws after a walk through a contaminated area. Hookworms can also present a health risk to your family members if the larvae comes in contact with skin.
WHIPWORMS – This infestation occurs when your pet swallows whipworm eggs found in contaminated soil. Whipworms cause bloody diarrhea, anemia, dehydration and loss of appetite. A female whipworm can produce 2,000 eggs daily. Eggs are passed in feces, and can survive for years in the soil. Whipworms are very difficult to eradicate.
GIARDIA – Giardia are protozoa, a microscopic single-celled organism with a flagellated teardrop shape which can take up residence in the small intestine. Both animals and humans can contract these organisms by drinking contaminated water from streams and ponds. For your dog, just one lap of contaminated water or a bite on a contaminated stick is all it takes to contract Giardia. Pets may also become infected by eating the droppings of contaminated animals or by licking their paws/fur after walking in an infected area. Clinical signs of Giardia range from intestinal discomfort to explosive bloody diarrhea sometimes accompanied by foul-smelling gas.
HEARTWORMS – Heartworm disease in animals is a serious health threat that can ultimately result in heart failure and death. Although heartworm disease is not currently a health problem in Bakersfield, almost all areas surrounding Bakersfield are heartworm infected areas, such as the mountains and beaches. You should be on prevention medication if you travel outside Bakersfield with your pet. ONE BITE from an infected mosquito can transmit heartworms to your pet. Dogs are the most common victims, but cats, ferrets and other animals are also susceptible. The heartworms restrict blood flow and cause organ damage and ultimately death. Symptoms include: coughing, labored breathing, and heart failure. Treatment is available for dogs, although it is expensive and may cause complications. Prevention is the key to your pet’s protection against a heartworm infection. We recommend testing your pet annually for heartworms. Once a month prescription medication is required to protect your pet during the year. This medication destroys any immature heartworms that exist in your pet’s bloodstream. Consider combining a wellness blood profile with your heartworm test to ensure your pet is in optimal health.
Advanced parasitic control medication for your pet is now available. For more information on how to protect your pet and your family, call our office at (760) 471-4950. Because the risk of parasites is often year round, we recommend a monthly parasite prevention program.