Here's something most lay people don't know. Most puppies and kittens are infested with intestinal worm larvae while in the uterus or from nursing. A percentage of these larvae will go through their life cycle and end up as adult worms in the intestines of the puppy or kitten. It's important to kill these adult worms and luckily it's fairly easy to do.
But here's the part that most people don't know.... most of the larvae that puppies and kittens get from their mom DON'T continue their life cycle to become adult worms in the intestine right away... instead they make encyst themselves into protective,microscopic cocoons in the tissues of the body and hide from their host's immune system.
As long as these larvae are dormant and hidden in their cocoons, they are protected from the host immune system and not affected by deworming poisons.
What signals these dormant larvae to come out of hiding is when they sense that their host's immune system is suppressed. This happens during periods of stress, sickness, and pregnancy. Certain medications can also suppress the immune system.
That's why even pets without exposure to other pets can turn up positive for worms after previously being tested as negative on a fecal exam. Isn't that interesting?
In addition to the worms that can emerge from their cocoons at a time of their choosing, pets continuously pick up microscopic worm eggs in the environment. The worms go through their life cycle in the dog or cat, causing various degrees of trouble to the pet and end up spreading more worm eggs via the stool around the yard.
People can also pick up these worm eggs, remember they are microscopic, and transmit them accidentally to their mouth.
Luckily, most of us have a healthy immune system and the worm eggs and larvae are usually successfully killed soon after entering our bodies...but not without a little immune system battle.
The little immune system battle that occurs every time we are exposed to germs and microscopic larvae may be one of the causes of unexplained fevers, aches and pains that people suffer for a couple of days and we often call "a touch of flu".
But occasionally worms can cause much more serious trouble in humans, especially to a developing fetus or children.
A more serious way that people get worm diseases from pets is from eggs in the yard or sandbox that hatch into larvae that can bore into skin and travel around in your blood, lymph, or neural system causing anything from mild rashes to blindness and other terrible disease.
This is a problem with barefoot children, especially if the ground is damp which favors larval hatching. This disease is known as larval migrans .
This problem is controlled by keeping pet stool picked up and more importantly, from regularly deworming your pets. Get your worm control products from a vet...many products sold elsewhere don't work very well... and have your pet's stool checked once a year for resistant worms. (Just like fleas keep getting resistant to flea products, worms keep getting resistant to deworming products)
The worms carried by raccoons can also cause serious larval diseases in humans so don't encourage these animals into your yard.
Remember that raccoons are a major reservoir of rabies too. (Don't feed them or leave garbage out where they can get in it)
Tape Worms (Cestodes)
Tapeworms are intestinal worms too, but are cestodes, (unlike round worms, hook worms, and whipworms, which are nematodes) and require a different type of deworming medicine. Tapeworms are resistant to the dewormers we use for nematodes (and vice versa).
Tapeworms have to go through a flea or rodent as part of their life cycle before infesting you or your pet, so we control them by using high quality flea products as well as cestode specific dewormers. For cats and those dogs that are regular mousers we monitor their stool for presence of the worms (they're fairly easy to see). It's not common for people to pick up these worms, but when we do, they can cause terrible damage including brain dysfunctions which just might explain a few people I know.
If you see rice size worms in your pet's stool, tell your vet; they're easy to get rid of IF you use the right medicine. The two medicines that are working well are both prescription drugs so don't expect to do a good job with over the counter dewormers. And take advantage of the new flea products (also prescription) that are working so well.
"What To Expect When You Go To The Vet"
if your pet should have a problem with ...
To include Femoral Head Removal, Hip Dysplasia, Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries, Panosteitis, Radiographic Demonstrations, Disc Disease, and Bone Surgery
Strokes, Vascular Diseases, Anemias, DVT, DIC, Blood Parasites, Rat Poison, & Bleeding disorders
Cardiology Heart disease in Cats, Cardiac Hypertrophy, Valvular disease, Cardiac Insufficiency, Congestive Heart Failure, Heartworm Disease, and a little history about the milestones in treating heart disease Cats: general information page and directory of diseases and problems specific to cats including vaccine recommendations, leukemia, feline viral infections, feline upper respiratory disease and cats that just aren't feeling well. Dermatology: Skin problems including allergies, rashes, bacterial infections, and itching. Hair Loss, Yeast Infections, Hormonal Problems Heart disease; Cardiac diseases, vascular diseases, stroke, & heartworms Hormone Diseases: Diabetes, Thyroid Disease, Cushing's Disease or Hypercortisolism, Addison's disease or Hypocortisolism, Pancreatitis, obesity as a disease Infectious Diseases Colds, Distemper, Parvo, Leptospirosis, Bruceellosis, Panleukopenia, Feline AIDS, Leukemia, Hepatitis, Kennel Cough, Ringworm, Rabies, FIP, Canine Herpes, Toxic Shock Syndrome, & More Intestinal problems: diarrhea, constipation, torsion, indigestion, and gas. Also pancreatitis, vomiting, esophagitis, colitis, parvo and other types of dysentery Metabolic Diseases: Diabetes, Thyroid Disease, Cushing's Disease or Hypercortisolism, Addison's disease or Hypocortisolism, Pancreatitis, obesity as a disease Parasite Problems; Fleas, Ticks, Heartworms, Intestinal Worms, Mosquitos, Lice, Mites, and other welfare recipients Poisons Snakes, Insects, household chemicals, plants, and foods that might poison your pet Skeletal-Muscular Problems Arthritis, Fractures, ACL, Ligament Injuries, Disc Disease, Pannus, and many other problems of the bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments Skin Problems: allergies, rashes, bacterial infections, and itching. Hair Loss, Yeast Infections, Hormonal Problems Surgery: Spays, Castrations, Testicle Recipes, Soft Tissue Surgery, Hard Tissue Surgery (Bones), C- Sections, Declawing, Tumor Removal and Cancer Surgery
Other Topics on This Site
Zoonotics: Diseases, worms, and parasites people get from pets.
Includes information about Prescription diets used to treat disease, and a discussion about the pet food industry
Includes information about feline and canine heat or estrus, breeding, C-Sections, pyometra or Infected Uterus, dystocia, no milk, mastitis, & brucellosis
Also newborn care, undescended testicles, and alternative to spaying and castration
WildLife Page: Taking care of baby bunnies, squirrels, and birds. A very funny story about beavers, and other misc information Our Dog Page: a directory of problems of concern in dogs including parvovirus, distemper, canine herpes, and other diseases