Transmission of Hookworm and Whipworm

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Transmission of Hookworm and Whipworm

Hookworm and whipworm are intestinal worms that can infect both pets and people. You have probably heard of them but you might not know that they are normally transmitted through the soil.

Soil-transmitted worms live in the intestine and their eggs are passed in the feces of infected party. If an infected party defecates outside (near bushes, in a garden, or field) or if the feces of an infected party are used as fertilizer, eggs are deposited on soil. Pets and people are infected with hookworm and whipworm when eggs or larvae are ingested. Hookworm larvae can also penetrate the skin of humans when walking barefoot on contaminated soil.

Your dog or cat doesn’t necessarily have to eat something outside to ingest worms; they can pick up the eggs or larvae on their paws or fur and then ingest them while grooming. Humans can pick them up from their pets while petting them and not washing hands afterwards. Take a look at this creepy case of a cat scratch transmitting hookworm to a person:

Worm eggs are very resilient; eggs can live for years in the soil. It is often not obvious when a pet is infected with hookworm or whipworm. That is why it is an extremely good idea to have your pet tested for intestinal worms twice a year. Even if they are not showing symptoms, the worms are effecting the delicate balance of health in your pet. Not to mention that infected pets are passing worms into the environment which increases the chances of infection for you and your family as well as other pets. A monthly parasite preventive is the best way to protect your pet year-round. Talk to your vet about the best parasite preventive product for your pet today.

Photo courtesy of Companion Animal Parasite Council and Cornell University 
Posted Thursday, May 14, 2015