Don't Let Worms Dog You

Parasites can migrate from pets to people

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(HealthDayNews) -- Roundworms, a parasite (Toxocara) commonly found in the intestines of dogs and cats, can be passed from pets to humans and cause an infectious disease called toxocariasis. It sickens some 10,000 people yearly in the United States. More than 700 of them experience total or partial loss of vision.

Heavy or repeated Toxocara infections, while rare, can initiate a disease that causes swelling of the body's organs or central nervous system.

Though hard to pronounce, toxocariasis can easily be prevented:

  • Have your veterinarian treat your dogs and cats, especially young animals, regularly for worms.
  • Wash your hands well with soap and water after playing with your pets and after outdoor activities, especially before you eat.
  • Teach children to always wash their hands after playing with dogs and cats and after playing outdoors.
  • Do not allow children to play in areas that are soiled with pet or other animal stools.
  • Clean your pets' living area at least once a week. Feces should be either buried or bagged and disposed of in the trash.
  • Teach children that it is dangerous to eat dirt or soil.
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