Tape­worms and zoonotic dis­ease

Wangaratta Chronicle - North East Regional Extra - - Vet Corner | Feature Story - by DR MEAGAN LEE BVSc (Hons), MANZCVS, vet­eri­nar­ian

WHY does your vet­eri­nary clinic ask if your dog’s worm­ing is up to date?

We are not only con­cerned about your dog’s wel­fare with par­a­site bur­dens, we are con­cerned about the hu­man health risk.

There are three dif­fer­ent types of tape­worm - Tae­nia, Echinococ­co­sis and Me­soces­toides - that can be passed on by the in­ges­tion of an in­ter­me­di­ate host con­tain­ing tape­worm lar­vae, such as rab­bits, ro­dents, birds, sheep and rep­tiles.

Dipy­lid­ium can­inum is an­other type of tape­worm and it can be passed on by in­ges­tion of adult fleas.

A zoonotic dis­ease is a dis­ease that can be trans­mit­ted from an­i­mal to hu­man, and in the case of Echinococ­cus (hy­datid tape­worm) in­fec­tion, the con­se­quences can be deadly.

The dog acts as a car­rier of the adult tape­worm and eggs and seg­ments of the worm are passed in its fae­ces.

These eggs can then be in­gested by hu­mans.

The eggs de­velop fur­ther in the small in­tes­tine and the lar­vae can mi­grate to other or­gans such as the liver, lungs and brain.

These cysts can cause se­ri­ous is­sues in those or­gans and they can only be treated by sur­gi­cal re­moval of the cysts.

Chil­dren may be at risk of Dipy­lid­ium in­fec­tion if they in­gest adult fleas.

So not only is reg­u­lar worm treat­ment im­por­tant, keep­ing the flea bur­den to a min­i­mum on your pets is also im­por­tant for hu­man health.

These tape­worms gen­er­ally in­fect young chil­dren and can cause a range of symp­toms from ap­petite al­ter­ations, di­ar­rhoea, rest­less­ness, con­sti­pa­tion and anal itch­ing and pain.

Some­times parts of the worm may be found in the nappy.

Pre­ven­tion is def­i­nitely bet­ter than a cure, es­pe­cially in the case of the Hy­datid Tape­worm.

Adult dogs should be wormed at least ev­ery three months.

But if they are on farms and have ac­cess to car­casses of dead sheep, goats, kangaroos, deer etc, then they should be wormed ev­ery six weeks with a prod­uct that con­tains praz­i­quan­tel at the cor­rect dose.

It is also very im­por­tant to wash your hands with soap and wa­ter af­ter be­ing around dogs to help re­duce the risk of hu­man in­fec­tion.

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