Frequently Asked Questions
What is a zoonotic disease?
Zoonoses, or zoonotic diseases, are those that can be transmitted directly or indirectly from animals to humans. For example, some worms can be transmitted in the environment.
What is a vector-borne disease?
Vector-borne diseases are those transmitted by fleas or ticks among other parasites that infest dogs and cats. They can affect pets and people. Ticks can transmit a large number of "vector-borne" diseases in North America including ehrlichiosis, Lyme disease, relapsing fever, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tularemia. Fleas can carry tapeworm eggs, as can rodents. If a dog or cat eats a flea when grooming itself or eats part of a rodent's intestines, it can be infected with tapeworms.
What kind of internal parasites or worms can infect my cat or dog?
There are any number of intestinal worms that can infect dogs and cats, and they vary according to the species. In general, these include roundworms, hookworms, whipworms and tapeworms, and they are very prolific. In fact, one worm can produce more than 100,000 eggs per day, which are then passed in the pet's feces and spread throughout the are the pet roams. Once in the environment, some of these eggs can remain infective and present a health risk for your pet and humans for years.
Are Heartworms a parasite I should be concerned about for my pet?
Yes. Heartworms can be a very serious problem for both dogs and cats, espcially those in mosquito-infested areas, as mosquitos are vector and intermediate host for the pest. Heartworms can kill or seriously debilitate pets that are infected with them. That's because heartworms live in the bloodstream, lungs and heart of infected pets. Our office can do a blood test to determine if your pet has heartworm disease. A year-round preventive program is most effective to keep pets free of heartworms.
If my dog or cat has intestinal worms, how can these parasites infect humans?
Roundworms are the most common intestinal parasite of pets and the most likely to be transmitted to humans. Humans, especially children, can accidentally ingest infective worm eggs that have been passed through the pet's feces and left in the environment. The eggs can then hatch in the human's intestinal tract, and the immature worms can travel to various tissues in the body, including the eyes and brain, potentially causing serious infections.
Information taken from Companion Animal Parasite Council pamphlet on Parasites.