Intestinal parasites of dogs and cats are potential health hazards for humans, too. Roundworm eggs, if ingested, can cause a disease called “visceral larval migrans”. Tiny worm larvae migrate through the human’s intestinal wall and into body tissues. They can then grow to larger size almost anywhere in the body. Roundworms are not spread to people by close contact with dogs or cats. The individual must ingest the infective stage of the roundworm eggs. Because the eggs are primarily contained within the feces, humans would need to consume the egg contaminated feces for contagion to occur. If hookworm larvae penetrate the skin they can cause “cutaneous larval migrans”, a potentially serious and scarring inflammation may result. Children are at most serious risk for infestation, especially if play behavior is in an environment where dog, cat, or raccoon feces may be present, such as in a sandbox.
Symptoms differ depending on the type of parasite and the location of infection, but some common clinical signs include:
- Worms visible in stool or segments of worm seen near anus
- Bloody stool
- Bloating or round, potbellied appearance to abdomen
- Weight loss
- Trouble breathing
*Adapted from http://www.puplife.com/pages/parasites-worms-what-every-pet-owner-needs-to-know