Travel Animal Doctor: What are Zoonotic Endoparasites Anyway?

Travel Animal Doctor: What are Zoonotic Endoparasites Anyway?

What is a zoonotic endoparasite? -Travel Animal Doctor

Endoparasites are simply parasites that infect your body internally.

Some parasites in animals can be transferred to humans. This is called a zoonotic parasite.

Travel Animal Doctor

Endoparasites: Travel Animal Doctor

Not long ago, I wrote an article entitled, “Parasites: Can I Contract Fleas from my Dog or Cat?”, that gave a brief description of parasites and described some of the parasites you can find on your animal. This article is to follow up on that article, and give some examples of important zoonotic endoparasites. If you found this article interesting, you may also find “Zoonotic Ectoparasites” to be helpful to you and your pet.

Do you like to take your pet to dog parks but you cringe at the dirt ground where you see all of the other pets defecating? Do you take your pet to your brother’s house on a regular basis to play with your niece and nephew? Traveling with pets is lots of fun, but it is always important to know how to keep your pet and you safe from diseases along the way. Listed below are four zoonotic endoparasites and one important disease you should be aware of when you travel.

1) Roundworms

Roundworms are zoonotic endoparasites that are transmitted to the soil by contaminated feces of raccoons, cats, dogs and pigs. There are many different types of roundworms, and these zoonotic endoparasites are specific to different species. If there is oral transmission of the eggs in the contaminated feces, larvae will hatch in a person’s gut and migrate through the body and organs. This is called visceral larval migrans. Visceral larval migrans is a very serious condition brought on by this zoonotic endoparasite that may result in serious ailments including a coma or seizures. A particular dog roundworm has infected children up to 80% in Colombia and 20% in the United States. A different dog roundworm can cause ocular larvae migrans when the eye is invaded. One type of roundworm that infects cats and dogs can cause cutaneous larval migrans, a condition similar to a zoonotic hookworm infestation. These infections can all be avoided with the use of monthly preventatives on your pet.

2) Tapeworms

This is a common form of zoonotic endoparasite. The most common tapeworms in dogs and cats can be transferred to humans who may accidentally ingest a dog or cat flea. The result is infestation of tapeworms in the human gastrointestinal tract.

Travel Animal Doctor

Tapeworms -Travel Animal Doctor

A more dangerous tapeworm shed by dogs and cats can cause migration through all organs including the brain on ingestion by humans. This type of tapeworm can be avoided by ensuring your dog does not eat raw meat from pigs, cattle and sheep infected by these zoonotic endoparasites.

3) Ringworm

The name of this disease is deceiving because it is not exactly a zoonotic endoparasite. This disease is actually caused by a fungus and can be transmitted to people from direct contact to their infected skin. Cats are a common species affected by ringworm. Since there is a potential zoonosis, it is important to rule out this disease in a family pet with suspicious hair loss. If you notice pet hair loss, a veterinarian can perform a fungal culture to confirm or dismiss the diagnosis of ringworm.

4) Hookworms

Hookworms are a type of zoonotic endoparasite that can be transmitted through contaminated soil or sand.

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If an animal with hookworms defecates in a sandbox and children go in the sandbox to play there is a chance of those children getting infected with the hookworm larvae in the feces. If a child becomes infected, the larvae penetrate the exposed skin and cause itching. This is called cutaneous larval migrans. To ensure that your pet does not have hookworms, keep it on monthly preventatives against hookworms.

5) Heartworms

Travel Animal Doctor
lloydcrew / Foter / CC BY

In rare instances, humans can be infected by the canine and feline heartworm through a mosquito bite. The heartworm affects the lungs rather than the heart in humans. Prevent zoonotic heartworm disease in humans through monthly preventatives in pets, use of mosquito repellant on humans and environmental control of mosquitoes.

These are just a few more common zoonotic endoparasites of many that have the potential to be spread from animal to human. These infections can all be avoided with the use of monthly preventatives on your pet. It is why these preventatives are essential to your pet’s and your family’s health. It is also important to have your pet dewormed during your annual physical examination. The preventatives will only work on a monthly basis. If a pet is off of the preventative for any amount of time there is a chance of your pet getting a parasite. This parasite can cause a parasitic infection to you or your children.

Photo credit: scyllarides / Foter / CC BY-ND

Keep your pet up to date on monthly preventatives and have your pet dewormed to  avoid zoonotic endoparasites and ensure that you keep a healthy family with your furry friend. -Travel Animal Doctor

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