It’s Not the Flu, It’s Roundworm
With heightened concern about swine flu, parents in India have been taking their children with respiratory signs to the pediatrician. An increasing number of Indian children with cold, cough, and fever, have been diagnosed with roundworm infections.
Closer to home, there have been prominent cases of human infections with roundworm and hookworm in the United States. Eighteen campers and four staff members at a day camp in Miami contracted the cutaneous larva migrans form of hookworm (with cats as the culprit). Earlier this year, two cases of “raccoon flu” (actually, raccoon roundworm, misidentified in the media) were reported to the New York Department of Health. In these separate cases in Brooklyn, a teenager permanently lost vision in one eye and an infant was left brain damaged.
More recently, within the last month, a popular lake in Utah was closed after three cases of human roundworm were confirmed. Last month, 4% of fecal samples submitted to Westgate Pet Clinic were positive for roundworm, hookworm, or whipworm. So far this month, 8% of fecal samples submitted have been positive for roundworm, hookworm, or whipworm.
To help control intestinal parasites in pets and zoonotic diseases (diseases which can be passed from animals to humans), Westgate Pet Clinic advocates the following:
- Multiple (at least two) dewormings for puppies and kittens, since puppies and kittens can get worms from their mothers in utero or while nursing.
- Two negative fecal examinations for puppies and kittens, with the last one performed at 16 weeks of age, to ensure they are free from intestinal parasites.
- Annual fecal examinations for all adult cats and dogs.
- Year-round heartworm preventative (which contains a dewormer) for all dogs.
- Year-round heartworm preventative and/or deworming at regular intervals for all cats that go outdoors.
- Scoop your pet’s poop, to help prevent environmental contamination which can cause pets to be reinfected and can be the source of zoonotic infections as well.
As far as the Swine Flu and seasonal flu are concerned, consult with your family physician to determine which preventative measures are appropriate for you. At Westgate Pet Clinic, we have instituted a flu policy to do our part to keep our staff and clients safe. Sick employees are not allowed to return to work unless they are fever-free for 24 hours.
Rooms are cleaned between clients and at the end of each day, keyboards and phones are wiped down daily. Employees are encouraged to cover their coughs the same way they “sleeve their sneezes” and to wash their hands frequently. Clients may also notice hand sanitizer strategically placed throughout the clinic for client and staff use.
Finally, Westgate Pet Clinic will have its 10th Annual Flu Shot Dinner this year! To encourage employees to get their flu shots, Dr. Bennett Porter III and Dr. Rhonda Downie, the owners of the clinic, take all employees who received their flu shots out to dinner to thank them for helping to protect the health of our staff and clients.