Q: Our veterinarian diagnosed our new kitten, Bella, with roundworms and told us these worms can infect humans. As a child, I once developed a circular skin rash that I think my mother said was roundworm. How can we prevent roundworm transmission to our human family members?
A: It sounds like you had ringworm, not roundworm. Ringworm is a fungal infection that produces a round, red, itchy rash on human skin. While cats and humans can share ringworm, it is unrelated to roundworms.
Bella has roundworms, spaghetti-like worms transmitted to kittens before they’re born or during nursing. Adult cats, even indoor cats, become infected when they ingest the microscopic eggs humans bring into the home on their shoes. Other sources of infection include eating bugs and rodents.
Most often, roundworms cause no clinical signs in cats. In humans, however, cats’ roundworms can cause blindness, seizures and organ damage. Therefore, the Companion Animal Parasite Council recommends monthly deworming of all cats.
Popular options include: 1) Pyrantel, an oral liquid that also kills hookworms, which may infect humans; or 2) Revolution or Advantage Multi, drops applied to the cat’s skin that also control hookworms, heartworms, fleas and ear mites. These products are available through your veterinarian.
Lee Pickett, V.M.D. practices companion animal medicine in Pennsylvania. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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