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What Are Hookworms and Toxocariasis?

Did you know that 1 in 36 dogs test positive in the US for Hookworms, and 1 in 23 cats test positive in the US for Roundworms? Iowa is a moderate risk state for both these infections. Learn more about these parasites below!


What are hookworms and what disease do they cause

Hookworms are parasites that cause mild diarrhea in both people and animals. As their name suggests, they have hooks on their mouth that help them attach better to the intestines of their host. Humans affected can also develop a skin condition called cutaneous larva migrans. The young worms or larvae migrate in the skin. Hookworms are widespread and can be found in many parts of the world.

What animals get hookworms?

Hookworms are primarily found in carnivores such as cats and dogs. Up to 96% of the dogs and 80% of the cats in some countries may be infested. Cattle and rodents may also be infested with hookworms.

How can my animal get hookworms?

In dogs, larval hookworms can be transmitted from the mother to puppies during pregnancy or through nursing (oral). Dogs, cats and other animals can get hookworms from the environment. Hookworm eggs are shed in the feces of infected animals and then hatch into larvae in the soil. Animals may ingest the worms from the soil.

How do hookworms affect my animal?

The signs and severity of disease from hookworms depends on the number of parasites (worm-loaded) infesting the animal. In dogs and cats, hookworms can cause diarrhea (that may have blood), pale pink gums (sign of anemia or blood loss), and weight loss. Large numbers of hookworms can be fatal in kittens and puppies. Hookworms that penetrate the skin will leave reddened, raised "tracts" or lines where they migrate.

Can I get disease from hookworms?

Yes. Humans can be infested with hookworms by ingesting the worm larvae from soil contaminated with fecal material. This can occur when people don't wash their hands after working or playing in dirt. Hookworm larvae can also directly penetrate the skin if there is direct contact with contaminated soil. This requires at least 5 to 10 minutes contact. When this happens, it is called cutaneous (skin) larva migrans (movement), because the worms tunnel in the skin leaving reddened lines.

Toxocariasis (Roundworm Infection)

What is roundworm infection and what causes it?

Roundworm infection or toxocariasis involves infestation of people or animals with roundworms, parasites found in the intestinal tract of dogs and cats.

What animals get roundworms?

Most animal species can get roundworms. Dog roundworms and cat roundworms are two kinds of roundworms that can cause disease in humans.

How can my animal get roundworms?

Dogs and cats of any age can get roundworms but they are most likely to have roundworms when they are very young. Worms are often passed from a mother to her puppies or kittens before birth or shortly after birth through her milk. Roundworms can also spread between animals by ingestion of worm eggs from the feces of an infected animal.

How do roundworms affect my animal?

Most often pets show no signs of infection. Some animals can have vomiting, loss of appetite or weight loss. Heavy infections (large number of worms) in young puppies and kittens can cause death.

Can I get roundworms?

Yes. An estimated 10,000 human cases of Toxocara occur in the U.S. every year. Dogs and cats infected with roundworms contaminate the environment by passing the worm eggs in their feces. The eggs can survive for long periods of time in yards, parks and playgrounds. People can get roundworm infections following incidental ingestion of eggs in feces contaminated soil, sand or plants. Children are more likely to become infected if they play in areas where the ground may be fecally contaminated by dogs and cats.

In most cases, roundworm infection causes no symptoms or damage. In some cases, the immature worms (larvae) can migrate through the body causing damage to body tissues. This condition is known as visceral larva migrans. The larvae can damage nerves or even lodge into the eye which can result in permanent nerve or eye damage, even blindness.

Protect yourself and your pet from these parasites by getting your pet tested today! Schedule your fecal test to determine if your pet has Hookworms, Roundworms, or any other parasites that can be detrimental to both his/her health and yours! During the month of November, we are offering 10% off fecal tests. Schedule yours today!

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Animal Health Center of Albia

1976 684th Avenue

Albia, IA 52531

Phone: 641-932-3455 

Animal Health Center of Oskaloosa

1015 A. Avennue W.

Oskaloosa, IA 52577

Phone: 641- 673-5525 

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605 West Pleasant Street

Knoxville, IA 50138

Phone: 641-828-2101

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Sunday: Closed


*Animal Health Center of Oskaloosa is now open until 7pm on the first Wednesday of the month!

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301 Richmond Ave 

Ottumwa, IA 52501 
Phone: 641- 682-8701

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