Pets & Human Parasite Correlation
Realities Beyond Mites, Ticks, Fleas and Lice
I love animals of all kinds, but there are risks involved with owning pets. People love their pets so much that they naively ignore or disbelieve that their pet can pose health issues or vice versa. The rate of zoonatic/zoonotic (animal) infections appear to be increasing with crossing over to humans. Had I been aware of the possible risks of parasites earlier in life, I would have been a lot more careful with handling animals. Let’s face an obvious factor about animals that can’t be ignored. Animals lick their genitals and anus, often; they groom themselves and other animals; or roll around in dirt. Microscopic parasites and arthropods (insects/bugs) live on the fur of animals and within their feces. Among veterinarians and scientists, it no great secret that animals carry many parasites. Time for pet owners to have a serious wake-up call!
There are several great mistakes that people make believing that their beloved pet is “clean": 1) Allowing their pets to lick their face (or someone else’s) with “kisses"; 2) infrequent handwashing before touching the face or handling human foods; 3) allowing pets to sleep with them; and, 4) allowing pets to eat off the owner’s plate (simultaneously sharing food) or food utensil. Some people are so foolish to believe that it is okay for a dog to lick the tongue or inside the mouth of a person - the thought is gross! It does make me wonder what is going with those people. Parasites, by the way, can enter the brain causing mental illness or disorientation. Science has conducted studies proving that parasites can manipulate their host’s behaviors.
After you finish reading this, you may reconsider how pets should be handled. Becoming aware of a growing problem shouldn’t make anyone an alarmist; if anything, people should obtain proper education to minimize risk. I don’t want to make anyone paranoid, but don’t assume that you might not be infected because you don’t see anything in the toilet. I’ve met plenty of people who didn’t know that they were infested with parasites (including myself) until it was too late.
It is time for pet owners to become aware of the truth to zoonatic parasite infections. Below are studies or excerpts from publications for better understanding about zoonasis. Highlighted links will take you to the entire publication.
The BBC published this several years ago.
Hidden dangers of dog stroking
Stroking a dog could infect a child with a parasitic worm that leads to blindness, a Somerset-based veterinary surgeon says.
Ian Wright, a vet practising in Burnham-on-Sea, and colleague Alan Wolfe found that of 60 dogs they examined, 25% had Toxocara eggs in their fur.
Up to 180 eggs were discovered in a gram of dog hair - a much higher density than found in the soil.
A quarter of the 71 eggs analysed contained developing embryos, and three were mature enough to infect humans.
Although infection rate is low, here is sound advice from the article:
His advice to anyone handling dogs was “wash your hands before meals, and after a good cuddle".
Canine tapeworm infections have been mistaken or misdiagnosed for Pinworms. In this Clinical Pediatric publication.
Dipylidium Caninum Mimicking Recurrent Enterobius Vermicularis (Pinworm) Infection
Pinworm infection is a very common diagnosis in young children that is not always confirmed through laboratory evaluation before empiric therapy is prescribed. This article describes a toddler who was treated several times for pinworms because small white worms were seen in her perianal area. Laboratory analysis of parasite material found in her diaper later confirmed a diagnosis of dipylidiasis. Because the signs of dipylidiasis and pinworm infection overlap and the treatments for these parasitic infections are different, the laboratory should clinically confirm suspected persistent or recurrent pinworms.
Below was a study conducted in Germany on cats and dogs during a three year period (1999-2003). They used the flotation method of finding parasites in feces; it is my understanding that this isn’t always a good detection method. If this is true, I wonder if the rate of infection could actually be higher. Within this study, specific parasites are named along with the rate of infection that were detected. The scientific study is on the PubMed site:
Endoparasites in dogs and cats in Germany 1999-2002
Samples of 8438 dogs and 3167 cats from the years 1999 until 2002 have been included in the investigation. 2717 dogs (32.2%) and 771 cats (24.3%) have been infected with endoparasites.
This is an unfortunate case involving another infant that was published in 1992 about Dog Tapeworm.
Dog tapeworm infestation in a 6-month-old infant - Dipylidium caninum
Two uncommonly diagnosed tapeworms, Dipylidium caninum, the dop tapeworm, and Hymenolepis diminuta, the rodent tapeworm, have occasionally been found in humans. Both infections are caused by the ingestion of infected fleas. Several different parasites are transmitted from dogs and cats to people, including Toxoplasma, Giardia, Toxocara (visceral larva migrans), Ancylostoma (cutaneous larva migrans), Dirofilaria, Echinococcus, and Dipylidium.  Dipylidium caninum tapeworms are quite prevalent in both domestic and feral dogs and cats and may be the most common parasite in domestic dogs and cats. [2-4] Because gravid segments of the tapeworms (proglottids) passed by infested children are small, white, and motile, they may often be mistaken for adult pinworms.
The prevalence of the parasite and the proximity of infected animals to humans would suggest that transmission occurs more frequently than is recognized. [6,7] It may be that infection is often asymptomatic and perhaps self-limited; therefore, undiagnosed infections in many individuals may resolve without recognition of symptoms or complications.
Acarasis, which is a mite infection, can be a dermatologic affliction passed onto people from their pets. In 2000, a French journal highlights the problem.
Acariasis and domestic animals
Various parasitic dermatoses in man can find their origin in domestic animals. Acariasis are skin zoonoses which are not well known by the dermatologists and general practitioners. Due to different ectoparasite mites, the acariasis always cause prurigo in man but different areas of the body are involved. The treatment of the domestic animals usually allows the cure of the owner’s skin disease.
My Comment: Prurigo is considered a skin disease with persistent eruptions of papules [small raised bumpy area on the skin] causing intense itching. The above citation makes me wonder how many people who are inflicted with an itchy skin disease that could be related to a mite infection. Doctors prescribe creams and dismissing people believing that it is topical problem when it could be related to an internal/external parasite problem.
Here is an excerpt that was obtained from LiveScience about the deadly bacteria Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection.
Pets Might Pack Deadly Human Bacteria
While evidence that points to pets helping to infect humans is so far slim, Kottler and University of Missouri-Columbia colleagues Leah Cohn and John Middleton announced today they will study the issue, which is hinted at in some previous research.
“There are multiple case reports of humans with infection with MRSA when the household pet was also found to have MRSA,” Cohn told LiveScience. “Sometimes, the human infection could not be successfully eradicated until the animal was also treated.”
A 2003 report in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases found that two dog owners who suffered persistent MRSA infections relapsed every time they returned home from the hospital. The dog was found to carry the same strain of MSRA, but the researchers could not determine whether the dog initially acquired the infection from the humans or the other way around.
This is from a publication in 1984 on Air Force pets.
Occurrence and impact of zoonoses in pet dogs and cats at US Air Force bases
Reports of zoonoses in people from these bases indicated that five less frequent zoonoses in dogs and cats (Microsporum canis dermatomycosis, fleas, Sarcoptes scabiei var canis, Gram-positive bacterial infections, and rabies) presented greater acute threats to humans than did the four most frequent zoonoses reported from their pets.
Note: The 4 common zoonatic infections reported in animals are hookworm, roundworm, tapeworm, and fleas.
I came upon this little blurb but was unable to find anything on the publication or a better source to review it. The original is in Dutch published in 2004 and listed with PubMed.
Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC), USA. Independent advisory council for controlling internal and external parasites who pose a public health threat to humans and animals
Lastly, to sum it up is an Abstract published from Australia listed on PubMed.
Enteric parasitic zoonoses of domesticated dogs and cats
Dogs and cats are important members of many families; however, they can harbour gastrointestinal parasites that may infect their owners. Some of these parasites, e.g. Echinococcus sp., can have a significant impact on human health. However, with appropriate education, management and anthelmintic regimes, zoonotic transmission of these parasites can be minimised.
Better education is needed so that pet owners can enjoy their animals without the risk of becoming ill in the future. Something to consider, I think. If you’re going to be a pet owner, at least, be responsible with handling your animal properly in order not to be infected or to infect others. The rate of parasite infections silently among people might be diminished greatly if pets were cleaned frequently along with using better developed anthelmintics. There has been a concern of pharmaceutical resistance to parasites; natural alternative controls are being looked at closer to address the problem.
You ask a very good question.
It is my personal opinion that zappers don't do very much if it is used as a solo mechanism for killing parasites or healing serious diseases. I'm sure there are plenty of people who will disagree with me, perhaps. I base my opinion from having lengthy discussions with laypeople and professionals; reading A LOT of information and research; plus, buying my own zapper to see for myself. The zapper will certainly not kill large or very hardy parasites; such as, the ascaris or tapeworm. The zapper can somewhat bother parasites because of the electrical current, in my experience, but it does NOT kill them! For this reason, I felt that the zapper was a useless piece of equipment. However, I do think that there is some validity for its use in small infections, colds or flus, headaches, swollen glands, etc; I also based this off of my personal experimentation in using a zapper. Therefore, if anyone suggests that the machine alone can kill parasites, you might want to be on guard and question.
In all of my research, which was many years ago, I concluded that if I wanted to invest in an electronic device a Rife F-Scan machine would be a better investment. It is my understanding that there is a learning curve on how to use these machines along with a lot of research and experience is needed to understand them completely to be effective. The machines are expensive, but several people have told me (professional physicians and laypeople) that the cost was worth it to them and a good investment.
I hope that this is helpful to you. Good luck in your research.
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