Parasite prevalence in Dane County, Wisconsin

I just finished writing an article about intestinal worms for the January issue of Nature’s Pathway.  Found interesting statistics about the prevalence of these parasites in Dane County.

Ascarid_5Did you know that roundworms are the most commonly seen intestinal worms in dogs and cats?  In Dane county, 1 out of every 44 dogs tested (or 2.25% of dogs) is positive for roundworms.  Cats have a higher prevalence–1 out of 19 cats (5.36%) are positive.  This percentage has been increasing over the past 3 years.

HooksHookworms aren’t quite as common.  For dogs, 1.59% test positive and 1.35% of cats test positive.  Remember that these are based on the number of pets actually tested–it doesn’t account for all those dogs and cats whose owners don’t bring in a stool sample.

whipworm-adultsWhipworms only infect dogs.  Only 0.78% of dogs tested were positive.  But whipworm eggs are intermittently shed in small numbers and can be very difficult to find, so the % could be a bit higher.

Roundworms and hookworms are zoonotic parasites–they can infect humans.  Children are at particular risk of roundworm infection, called “larval migrans.”  The worm doesn’t develop in the intestines, but the larvae migrate around the body, causing damage in whatever tissue they pass through.  Whipworms also don’t infect the intestines in humans.  The eggs can “hatch” in moist, warm soil and the larvae can penetrate through the skin, causing intense itching.  This is seen in dogs, too.

Because intestinal worm eggs are spread through infected rodents, birds, earthworms, and cockroaches, even inside-only cats can become infected.  Yearly testing and/or regular deworming (such as with heartworm preventative) is very important for maintaining the health of your pet.

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