Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 14 October 2015

Danger of toxocara parasite to humans

Published 12/09/2012

Experts are warning pet owners to become far more diligent when it comes to treating their pets for parasites like fleas and worms.

A hidden jungle of critters on your doorstep could pose serious health risks to pets and owners alike because of a void in knowledge and awareness.

Of particular concern is the relatively unknown and largely misunderstood toxocara parasite which can, in rare cases, cause blindness in humans. The parasite’s eggs are shed in animal’s faeces and although many dog lovers think that by scooping their dogs poop they are eliminating the risk, in fact, unless you are worming monthly the eggs can still remain in the soil or grass where your pet made it’s mess – even if all visible traces have been removed. This means families playing in parks where a pooch’s poop has been scooped, could still be at risk of picking up Toxocaraisis.

The toxocara parasite survives well beyond the owner cleaning up their dog’s faeces – it can stick to your pet’s fur and can then be easily transferred to your bed, sofa and floors – exposing you to the serious implications it carries.

Even ticks, fleas and mites, of which most pet owners are aware need to be taken more seriously. Lots of people may consider ticks to be similar to fleas, but in actual fact, fleas are insects and ticks are arachnids because they have 8 legs in their adult life stage!

Fleas are the most common parasite affecting pets worldwide. They prefer warm, humid conditions and are often attracted to dogs and cats by their body heat. Once on a pet, they can spread anywhere that the pet goes, including the pet owner’s home.

And, as if fleas alone aren’t bad enough - they may carry tapeworm larvae. If these infected fleas are then swallowed by the pet whilst grooming for example, they will develop tapeworm.

Following a recent spate of warm and wet weather, gardeners are reporting a large increase in the numbers of slugs and snails in the garden. Dog owners don’t realise the threat posed by these slimy critters, which harbour lungworm, a parasite with potentially fatal consequences for dogs.

Log onto each week to watch our series of videos with David Bellamy and vet, Steve Leonard alongside an array of parasite experts as they hope to educate Britain’s animal lovers about the potential risks to their pets, themselves and their families.

6th September: Focus on Toxocara

13th September: Focus on Fleas & Tapeworm

20th September: Focus on Ticks

27th September: Focus on Lungworm

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