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N You have just purchased a new puppy or kitten, and discover it has roundworms. Your probable response is What are roundworms and can my children become infected?" Roundworms, scientifically named ascarids, are not just one type of worm, but a family of worms which infect both young and adult animals as well as humans of an ages. Adult roundworms live an average of four months. Each female can produce close to 1/4 million eggs per day. On average, an affected animal will have up to several hundred adults worms in its intestines. This means the animal may pass millions of eggs per day. Pets become infected by eating other infected animals - earthworms, mice, birds etc. In puppies, but not kittens, the worm's larvae can cross the placenta to the developing puppies. Larvae can pass through the mother's milk and into the nursing pups. Infected puppies can pass eggs by four weeks of age. People become infected by ingesting eggs from the soil, litter box, sand box, etc. Roundworm eggs require two weeks or longer before the larvae are capable of infecting other animals. Handling infected puppies that are contaminated with feces and inadequate hand-washing are a source of roundworm transmission. Roundworms produce two disease syndromes in people - Visceral larva migrans (VLM) and Ocular larva migrans (OLM). VLM is characterized by fever, high white blood counts, enlarged liver, asthma, pneumonitis, brochiolitis and on rare occasions, when the parasite has migrated to the central nervous system or heart, death. In OLM the migration is to the eye and eye lesions and loss of vision can occur. To prevent roundworm infections: 1. Neat all infected animals and those in contact with infected animals 2. Keep your pets' environment clean and prevent contamination with feces. 3. Prevent animals from fouling yards, play areas, etc. with feces.

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Author:Ryan, Thomas
Publication:Pediatrics for Parents
Date:Apr 1, 1990
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