There are many diseases that can cross between species, for example from dogs, cats or lizards to humans. That means that if Rover tangles with a parasite, you and your loved ones could potentially contract a disease if the right precautions are not taken. As March is Zoonotic month we thought we would address some of the common parasites that we see at our clinic.

What is Toxoplasmosis
& Why Pregnant Women Should Care?

Pregnant women are warned not to clean litterboxes because of an organism called Toxoplasma. This organism has the ability to cross the placenta and can cause varying degrees of blindness in the newborn. It can also cause a variety of severe neurological conditions and at its worse can lead to miscarriage or stillbirth. This sounds frightening but please don’t give away your cat if you are thinking about starting a family. The organism takes 24 to 48 hours after passing from the cat (in feces) to become infectious. Cleaning the litterbox at least once a day and wearing rubber gloves will prevent infection. Better yet, get someone else to clean the litterbox!

Toxoplasma can also be transmitted from animals to humans by ingestion of undercooked meat.

What's The Big Deal About Roundworms & Hookworms?

Both Roundworms and Hookworms from dogs and cats can infect humans. We can become infected from contact with feces and possibly from being licked in the face by our pets.

Young children and the elderly are at the highest risk along with people who are immune suppressed from HIV-Aids, organ transplant recipients on anti-rejection drugs and anyone who is on immune suppressing drugs.

In the above population these intestinal parasites can cause Larval Migrans which means “migrating larva.”  When ingested by humans, who are not their first choice as a host, the larvae travel from the digestive tract and can cause damage wherever they end up. For example, larvae migrating to a child’s eye can cause blindness.

Roundworms cause
Visceral (organ), ocular (eye), and neural larval migrans. 

Hookworms cause
Visceral (organ) and cutaneous (skin) larval migrans. 

Puppies and kittens need to be dewormed beginning at 2 weeks of age, every 2 weeks thereafter until they are 4 months of age and then monthly until 6 months of age.