Roundworm infestations occur in one of three ways in pets,
in the uterus prior to birth, via the milk when a puppy or kitten is nursing
and/or direct ingestion of the eggs from fecal material. For humans, the last method is the only cause
for infestation and often occurs without knowledge or consideration of the risk
on the part of the human host. Children
are most susceptible to roundworm infestations due to their likelihood of
placing dirty objects into their mouths and frequent contact with potentially
contaminated soil. Although roundworms
do not penetrate skin like hookworms do, microscopic eggs may inadvertently be
consumed from dirty hands or other objects.
Once ingested, eggs hatch into larvae which travel through major organs
including the liver and lungs. These
larvae may also migrate in such a way as to cause permanent nerve damage or
become lodged in the eye with the ability to cause blindness. Suspected or known contact with roundworms
should always be discussed with your doctor or child’s pediatrician.
Dogs and cats are a common source of roundworm
infestations. Considered an intestinal
parasite, roundworms have the potential, in severe infestations, to cause
intestinal blockages which may result in death.
By the age of even 2-3 weeks it is possible for a puppy/kitten to have
substantial quantities of adult worms in their intestines as the infestations
may begin prior to birth. Signs of
potential roundworm infestations may include, but are not limited to weight
loss, lethargy, loss of appetite, apparent abdominal distention, vomiting and
diarrhea (both of which may contain visible adult worms). Fecal examination is commonly utilized in
order to diagnose roundworm infestations when visible adult worms are not
present in feces or vomit. Proper
deworming medications and schedule help to treat and prevent roundworm
infestations in kittens/puppies.
Over-the-counter medications may not be effective or may be
contraindicated for your pet so we encourage owners to discuss all medications
with their veterinarian prior to administration. Follow up fecal examinations are necessary in
order to determine complete eradication of parasitic infestations.
Ask us at Animal Central for more information on how
roundworms can affect both you and your pet or visit:
Dr. George Stroberg, DVM and Staff