83.9 F
Charlotte Amalie
Thursday, November 30, 2023


Intestinal parasites of dogs and cats can cause infections in humans
that come in contact with the larvae in contaminated soil. Hookworms and
round worms are prevalent in pets, especially puppies and kittens, and
feral animals of the Virgin Islands. Transmission of these parasites to
humans can be prevented with some simple precautions and good
The larvae of hookworms and roundworms are shed in the feces of
infected animals. Humans come in contact with the feces, and the larvae
migrate through the tissues (liver, lung, and skin) where they cause
damage and induce allergic reactions. This syndrome is called larva
migrans and cutaneous larva migrans when the skin is involved. The
symptoms are determined by which organs are involved. Most commonly the
skin is infected causing a red, linear, itchy rash.
Most human cases can be prevented with good hygiene, eliminating
parasites from pets, and restricting children's access to areas
contaminated with animal feces. Precautions that will decrease risk of
infection include: wearing shoes or sandals outdoors, wash hands after
gardening (or better wear gloves), and remove pet feces from areas where
children play.
Deworming your pets will improve contamination of the soil. Puppies,
kittens, and their mothers are most at risk for infection and shedding
the eggs and larvae of these parasites. Pups and kittens should be
wormed at 6, 8, and 12 weeks of age. Nursing mothers should also be
wormed as they shed eggs that cause further infection in their
offspring. Heartworm preventative tablets also prevent hookworm and
roundworm infections. A fecal test at the time of annual physical
examination will determine if other more aggressive treatment is
Editors' note: Dr. Laura Palminteri practices veterinary medicine at Cruz Bay Canines, Cats & Critters on St. John. A 1991 graduate from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, she practiced small animal and equine medicine in New York before opening her practice on St. John.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.

Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.