There is a term for diseases that are passed on from animals to people. It is called zoonosis.
Infants and small children are more susceptible to catching parasites and diseases from pets as they have immature immune systems and often poor hygiene.
Can Children Catch Worms from Cats and Dogs?
It is possible for humans and especially children to become infected with worms from cats and dogs. It is important to teach your children to wash their hands before eating. Equally important is to regularly treat your pets for worms.
It should be noted that catching worms from the family pet is not common but you should be aware of the possibility.
Can Roundworm spread from cats and dogs to children?
Roundworm are the most common parasite of the digestive system in cats and dogs. Roundworm can only spread to humans by ingesting roundworm eggs. This can happen when a child comes in contact with contaminated soil or sand and then transfers eggs to the mouth via contaminated fingers or by putting contaminated objects in their mouths.
Visceral larva migrans, is a disease caused by roundworm that can affect humans.
Visceral larva migrans also known as Toxocariasis is a potentially serious disease that can affect the eyes and other organs. The disease is caused by Toxocara canis (dog roundworm) which lives in the intestine of dogs and Toxcara cati (cat roundworm) which lives in the intestine of cats. Dogs have been known to be infected with Toxcara Cati after eating the feces of cats.
After the eggs are inadvertently eaten they hatch in the human intestine. The larvae from these eggs are then released into the bloodstream and find their way to all parts of the body, including the liver, lungs, heart, brain and eyes.
Most human patients are children between the ages of two and four years, who become infected after playing in sandboxes or soil contaminated by pet feces. The eggs can survive in soil for as long as seven years.
Toxocariasis can be prevented by keeping children from playing in soil contaminated by animal feces and by teaching children to wash their hands before eating. Toxocara eggs can only become infective if they have been in the environment for approximately two weeks, so direct contact with an infected animal generally does not result in transmission.
Can children or adults catch Hookworm from pets?
Hookworm is an intestinal parasite found in cats and dogs but is more common in dogs. Hookworm are most commonly found in tropical and subtropical areas. In animals the hookworm attaches to the inside of the intestinal wall by means of a hook-like mouth and feed on the blood of the host. The eggs are excreted in the animals feces.
Hookworm is transmissible to humans via soil contaminated by cat or dog feces. Hookworm eggs are deposited into the soil. The larvae which hatch from the eggs can infect a human either by ingestion or by penetrating the skin. In skin penetration humans can develop into a characteristic itchy rash called cutaneous larva migrans, or creeping eruption. The rash can take the form of a snake-like tract with blisters which is caused by the hookworm larvae traveling under the skin. In humans when the hookworm enters via the skin it does not find it’s way to the intestines.
Children or adults can become infected through the soles of their feet by walking barefoot in a hookworm infected area or on the buttocks by sitting in a infected area.
Can Ringworm spread from cats and dogs to children?
Contrary to its name Ringworm is not a worm at all but a fungus called Dermatophytes. Dermaphtytes means ‘plants that live on the skin’. In the past, because of the circular lesions made by the fungi they were thought to be caused by worms, hence the name ringworm.
Ringworm is very contagious and can spread from cats, dogs and other animals to humans and visa versa.
More Reading on Ringworm Pictures included.
Threadworm are so called because they look like pieces of white cotton thread in the child’s feces.
Threadworm are NOT caught from pets. The most likely transmission of threadworm is from other children.
Tapeworm and Humans
Dipylidium Caninum is the most common tapeworm in dogs and cats. It is not common for a human to become infected with tapeworms from their pets.
In order for a human to become infected with Dipylidium Caninum they must ingest an infected flea and this doesn’t happen often. Pets on the other hand often ingest fleas whilst grooming.
More Reading on Tapeworm in Cats
Can you catch heartworm your pet?
No. Heartworm is transmitted by mosquitoes not cats or dogs. Humans are not a natural host for heartworm.
The importance of worm control in Cats and Dogs
To help protect your family from the possibility of catching worms from your pets it is essential that you de-worm your pets regularly.
More reading on:
Worming your Kitten or Cat
Flea Control is also necessary to protect your pets and family from tapeworm.
More reading on How to get rid of fleas on your cat or dog and in your house.
Cat Scratch Disease
Cat Scratch Disease is caused by a bacteria (Baronella henselae). It is self limiting and most people will recover from the infection without any treatment, although individuals with immune system problems may be more seriously affected and should seek medical advice.
Cat Scratch Disease is caused by a scratch or bite from a cat but more often a kitten. The first sign or symptom is a small lump similar to an insect bite or blister at the site where the scratch or bite occurred. Swelling of the lymph nodes usually occurs a couple of weeks later.
Other symptoms can include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, headache, rash, sore throat and an overall feeling of being unwell.
Children and adolescents are more prone to the infection. Infection cannot be spread from person to person.
Consult your doctor who may prescribe antibiotics after confirming the infection.
In non-vaccinated humans, rabies is almost invariably fatal after neurological symptoms have developed, but prompt post-exposure vaccination may prevent the virus from progressing.
Any mammal may become infected with the rabies virus and develop symptoms, including humans. Most animals can be infected by the virus and can transmit the disease to humans. Infected bats, monkeys, raccoons, foxes, skunks, cattle, wolves, dogs or cats provide the greatest risk to humans. Rabies may also spread through exposure to infected domestic farm animals, groundhogs, weasels and other wild carnivores. Squirrels, rodents and rabbits are seldom infected.
The virus is usually present in the nerves and saliva of a symptomatic rabid animal.The route of infection is usually, but not necessarily, by a bite. In many cases the infected animal is exceptionally aggressive, may attack without provocation, and exhibits otherwise uncharacteristic behaviour. (source: Wikipedia)
Toxoplasmosis is caused by a parasite called Toxoplasma gondiia and can spread from cats to humans. Toxoplasmosis is common in humans often causing flu like symptoms but is usually of no danger. The main danger is to unborn children where the pregnant mother has been exposed to the parasite early in the pregnancy. Infection is caused by inadvertently ingesting contaminated cat feces. Pregnant women should take extra care when handling cat litter boxes.