Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

Children at risk unless dogs are banned

Why has it taken so long for our local councils to ban dogs from playing fields and other public amenity areas? This issue was in the public domain, certainly with regard to school playing fields, in the late-1980s.

As most responsible dog-owners will know, dog faeces can cause toxocariasis, which is a common parasitic disease, but in extreme cases is potentially very serious.

Each year, according to the NHS, there are 50 to 100 cases of eye disease in the UK due to taxocariasis. In some instances, children lose their sight completely.

Toxocariasis is caught by swallowing (unintentionally, of course) soil contaminated with toxocara eggs, which are spread through infected dog and cat faeces.

These eggs live in, or on, the soil for two years, or more. Anyone playing on sports pitches, or a child playing in sand, is vulnerable to toxocaral infection.

Toddlers playing in the park are very vulnerable, as they often put their fingers and toys that have been on the ground into their mouths.

Research in the early-1990s indicated that about half of the most serious cases of toxocariasis were in families who never owned a dog or cat. I wonder how many of the dog-owners who are currently complaining about the unfairness of the various councils' actions would allow their children and grandchildren to play in public areas where dogs and cats run freely?

DOG LOVER

Newtownabbey, Co Antrim

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