The growing popularity of dogs and cats in the United States, together with high rates of round and hookworm infections, has resulted in widespread contamination of the soil with infective eggs. Studies have implicated the presence of dogs, and pica (dirt eating) as the principal risk factors for human disease. Children’s play habits and their attraction to pets put them at higher risk for infection than adults.
Most cases of human worm infections can be prevented by practicing good personal hygiene, eliminating intestinal parasites from pets through regular de-worming, and making potentially contaminated environments, such as unprotected sand boxes, off limits to children. It is also important to clean up pet feces on a regular basis to remove potentially infective eggs before they become disseminated in the environment via rain, insects, or the active migration of the larvae. Most pet owners do not know that their pets may carry worms capable of infecting people. Therefore, practicing veterinarians can provide an important public service by recommending regular fecal examinations, providing well-timed de-worming, counseling clients on health hazards, and advising them on any precautionary measures that may be undertaken.
Recommendations for worming pets from the Center of Disease Control (CDC)
Puppies: Worm every two weeks starting at 2 weeks of age until three months of age (12 weeks) and once a month from three to six months. Then follow the adult recommendations.
Adult dogs: Treat according to potential exposure, i.e. annually for house or backyard dogs. Two to four times a year for dogs that go to parks, the mountains, or roam free in wildlife areas.
Kittens : Worm every two weeks starting at 2 weeks of age until three months of age (12 weeks) and once a month from three to six months. Then follow the adult recommendations.
Adult Cats: Treat according to potential exposure, i.e. annually for house cats. Two to four times a year for cats that go outside or hunt.