Tapeworms and zoonotic disease
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.