Chart: 6 zoonoses you should know—Hookworm infection
Common disease name
(Hookworms are short [6- to 12-mm], thick worms that are whitish to reddish brown with a hooked front end.)
Dogs: Ancylostoma caninum, Ancylostoma braziliense, Uncinaria stenocephala
Cats: Ancylostoma tubaeformis, Ancylostoma braziliense, Uncinaria stenocephala
Method of infection
All: Ingestion of larvae from feces, skin penetration
Puppies and kittens: Transmammary
People: Skin penetration with larva in infected soil (Ancylostoma species); causes cutaneous larva migrans
Puppies: Anemia and pale mucous membranes, ill thrift, failure to gain weight, poor hair coat, dehydration, and dark and tarry diarrhea (melena)
Adult dogs: Few signs if well-nourished and immunocompetent; often source of infection in pups; in cases of higher worm load, could cause anemia, anorexia, emaciation, and weakness, along with black and tarry diarrhea. These are also more likely to occur with malnutrition and stress.
Kittens and adult cats: Can cause anemia, diarrhea, and weight loss in kittens; large numbers can be fatal.
Puppies and kittens: Respiratory disease and pneumonia may occur when large numbers of larvae migrate through the lungs.
All: Penetration of larval hookworm occasionally causes a dermatitis with erythema, pruritus, and papules. These are most commonly seen on the animal’s feet, particularly in the interdigital spaces.
People: Red, itchy, serpentine lesions on the skin
Pyrantel pamoate (dogs), fenbendazole (dogs), moxidectin (dogs), milbemycin oxime (dogs and cats), emodepside/praziquantel (cats), selamectin (cats); in all severely infected animals, anthelmintic treatment must be combined with supportive therapy to keep the animal alive until the drugs can kill the worms.
People most at risk
Farmers, gardeners, landscapers, sunbathers lying on sand, plumbers, electricians, exterminators, and children playing in potentially contaminated areas
- Promptly remove animal feces from the yard.
- Cover children's sandboxes when not in use.
- Wear shoes and gloves while gardening.
- Wash hands thoro ughly after playing outside or exposure to soil (especially dirt under the fingernails).
- Treat puppies and kittens with appropriate anthelmintics when they are 2, 4, 6, and 8 weeks of age, and give them monthly preventives as soon as the label recommendations allow.
- Treat females at day 40 of pregnancy until five weeks past delivery following label recommendations, and keep the females out of contaminated areas during pregnancy. The bitch should be whelped and the pups should be suckled in a clean environment.
- Keep dogs on leashes or in fenced yards and keep cats indoors to help prevent ingestion of infected animal or feces.
- Monitor children playing outside in sandboxes and parks.