Pick up that poop — it's a public health concern

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8797_B13_rgb5(ARA) – It’s a big problem whenever people are out and about with their dogs. Some don’t want to scoop their pooch’s poop. But a number of diseases caused by parasites like roundworms can be transferred from pets to people via droppings. Roundworm infections in young children can be very serious.

To protect children from parasitic worms common to cats and dogs, don’t allow a child to play in areas that are soiled with pet or wild animal feces. Dr. Kevin R. Kazacos, a professor at Purdue University veterinary school and one of the nation’s top experts on internal parasites, says that children can be infected with these parasites by eating dirt as well.

It’s believed that roundworm infections are very much underdiagnosed. A recent study found that approximately 14 percent of Americans carry antibodies for dog and cat roundworms, meaning they’ve been exposed to the parasite.

Common symptoms of infections by internal parasites in your cat or dog include a change in appetite or coat, diarrhea, coughing and also reduced activity, but many infected animals will not show any symptoms. Your veterinarian can detect a worm infection with a simple fecal test. If an infection is found, your veterinarian may recommend a de-worming program.