Internal Parasites come in many forms; testing methods vary depending on what we’re looking for.
We can screen for intestinal parasites like roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, tapeworms, coccicia, and giardia; blood-borne parasites like cytauxzoon felis and hemobart; and screen for diseases transmitted by parasitic mosquitoes and ticks like heartworm, Lyme, Erchilichia, and Anaplasmosis.
Two parasites of concern due to their zoonotic (transmissable to human) nature are:
Roundworm – The intestinal parasite of greatest concern is roundworm. When roundworms infect humans, it can result in a condition known as ocular larval migrans. Since humans are not a natural host for roundworms, the larvae migrate through different areas of the body than they would in a cat or a dog. In this case, the larvae migrate to the human eye and damage the retina and/or the lens, resulting in blindness. Children are at the greatest risk for this disease since the infection occurs through ingestion of the eggs or larvae of the roundworm, often passed through feces.
Hookworm – Human infection with hookworm usually occurs as a result of the larvae penetrating the skin and causing a condition known as cutaneous larval migrans. Again, since humans are not natural hosts for hookworms, the larvae migrate through different areas of the body than they would in cats or dogs. In cutaneous larval migrans, the larvae migrate through the skin causing serpentine, linear lesions that are intensely pruritic. This disease is generally not life threatening but it is very uncomfortable.
Children’s sand boxes should be kept covered to prevent dogs from defecating in them; young children should be monitored when playing outside to ensure that they are not ingesting dirt and their hands should be washed after playing outside. Shoes should be worn to reduce the risk of hookworm infection and gloves should be worm while gardening.
Prevention of transmission of roundworms and hookworms from dogs to humans involves a fecal exam at their first visit and deworming at the first and second visit. If there is evidence of roundworms or hookworms in the fecal exam or if the owner notices the puppy passing roundworms, a follow-up fecal exam should be done at the third visit to ensure the infection has been cleared. We recommend year-round protection with medications that treat a variety of internal parasites. We will recommend a product that suits the needs of your individual pet and lifestyle.