What are roundworms? Roundworms are one of the most common type of worm found in domestic cats. Roundworms are also known as ascarids. The disease they cause is called ascariasis. These worms live in an infected kitty’s small intestine. The worms are easily spread and can be contracted in several ways. So, it is a common parasite found in dogs and cats.
How do cats get roundworms? Cats can get roundworms in three different ways: Roundworm eggs are passed in the feces of infected cats and can lie dormant in litter trays, sandpits and soil for years. These eggs can then infect other cats if eaten. Roundworm eggs can be picked up when cats hunt, catch and eat infected rodents, birds, cockroaches, and earthworms. Kittens can become infected with roundworm from their mother by her milk. This is why young kittens often have worms even when they have never been outside. Adult cats can also become infected by accidently ingesting roundworm eggs from the environment. If your cat lays on contaminated soil, they can ingest the eggs while grooming their fur.
Facts: Roundworm larvae can hide in your pet’s tissues in a dormant state, escaping regular deworming treatments and reactivate themselves later. Pregnancy and stress can cause the reactivated larvae to travel to the mammary glands and infect kittens when they feed on mother’s milk. This is called Trans-mammary or milk-borne infection.
What are the signs of roundworms? An adult cat with roundworms will often show no ill effects. Vomiting and diarrhea can occur. In kittens they may have a pot-belled appearance, and abdominal discomfort, depressed appetite, dull haircoat, vomiting, diarrhea and/or poor growth. Large numbers of roundworms may cause life-threatening problems in kittens and older debilitated cats. You may also see roundworms in your cat’s feces. They are long skinny worms about 5-6 inches long and may be coiled up in the feces.
How are roundworms diagnosed? To diagnose a roundworm infection, your veterinarian will take a small amount of your cat’s poop and mix in a special solution that causes the eggs to float to the top of the solution. The sample is covered with a glass slide, where the floating eggs collect, then placed on a microscope slide and examined under the scope. This is called a fecal floatation.
What is the treatment for roundworm infection? Your cat will be given an anthelmintic or deworming medication that will safely remove the worms. More than one deworming is necessary because none of the current treatments will kill the immature forms of the worm or the migrating larvae. At least 2 to 3 treatments several days or weeks apart are recommended. They are many products for removing roundworms. Your veterinarian will make a recommendation for a product to rid your pet of roundworms.
What is the prognosis for a cat diagnosed with roundworms? The prognosis for a cat infected with roundworms if generally good if appropriate medication is given promptly. Extremely debilitated cats and kittens could die.
Can people get sick if their cat has roundworms? Yes. Roundworms cause a zoonotic (spreads to people) disease caused ascariasis. People can accidentally ingest roundworms eggs-for example, if they touch contaminated soil from infected pet feces pet or infected pet feces themselves and put their hands in their mouth before washing their hands. The larvae of the roundworm can migrate into our tissues, potentially causing serious disease. The larvae can invade tissues and become encysted in various organs, such as the liver and eye. Children are at the greatest risk. A study was done several years ago where they found that soil at the end of a slide in playgrounds and sandboxes were the most common source of infection.
How can I reduce the risk of roundworm infection in my cat? Practice good hygiene. Pick up your cat’s feces from the backyard and regularly clean your cat’s litter box. Wash your hands after cleaning up after your cat. Wash your cat’s bedding along with any blankets or cushions your cat uses for sleeping or grooming on a regular schedule. Keep your pet on a monthly heartworm, flea/tick, and internal parasite prevention. Wash your hands frequently after handling your pet.
If you have questions regarding pet care, contact Dr. Norette L. Underwood of the Trumann Animal Clinic at email@example.com