The common round worm (Toxocara canis) is carried by dogs and has associated health risks for young children. Children can become infected by coming into close contact with the infective stage of the round worms life cycle; the egg.
A single dog mess can contain approximately 1 million microscopic eggs. Eggs in dog dirt enter their infectious stage approximately 2-3 weeks after the dog dirt is deposited in the open air. Therefore it is critically important that dog owners clean up immediately after their dog has “done its business”. While fresh dog dirt is not a risk, once in the open air, the eggs soon enter their infectious stage.
These eggs are tough and even when the dog dirt appears to have washed away; the infectious eggs can remain in the soil for over two years. Children are put at risk when they swallow the eggs by handling dogs or contaminated soil or grass. They can also become infected if they come in contact with items such as toys, shoes and buggies that have been contaminated by dog dirt. Infection can cause damage to the liver, lungs and in severe cases cause blindness. While the risk is considered low, Irish research suggests that there are 6.6 cases of ocular toxocarisis (unilateral blindness) per 100,000 children aged from 3-19 years. No child’s sight should be put at risk and this can be achieved by eliminating the opportunity of a child coming in contact with the egg of the round worm.
To eliminate the occurrence of round worm, vets should be consulted on an appropriate worming frequency to decrease the chances of worm infestation in your dog. Dog owners are asked to show they respect Kilkenny by abiding the law and clean up after their dog should it create a mess while out in a public place. Aside from health risks to children and dogs, stepping in dog dirt is unpleasant and is unsightly. Let’s show we love our pets and respect the place we live by keeping it clean.