This is one distinction that the people and pets of Alexandria would probably like to avoid: According to a new report, the Virginia community ranks No. 8 nationwide for roundworm infections in dogs and cats.
Worse, roundworm infections are more prevalent during the winter months — and they can infect people too.
The report, by the Companion Animal Parasite Council, found that Alexandria was among 10 cities with the highest increase in positive roundworm test results in dogs and cats in the past 30 days.
“An increase in roundworm prevalence not only alerts communities to a persistent threat to the health of dogs and cats, but it also warns of a significant threat to the health of children and families who can potentially contract roundworm infection,” said Dr. Craig Prior, a CAPC board member, in a release on the findings.
The CAPC’s survey said more than 30% of dogs under 6 months are “shedding” (pooping) roundworm eggs.
Roundworm can be lethal, particularly for puppies and kittens,
“This demonstrates how vital it is for dogs and cats to be protected against roundworm parasites with broad-spectrum, year-round preventatives, and at a minimum, biannual testing,” Prior said. “By protecting your pet, you are protecting other pets, your family, other families — and your entire community.”
According to data collected from Oct. 1 to Oct. 31, these are the 10 cities with the highest percentage increase in positive roundworm tests:
- Charleston, West Virginia
- Mobile, Alabama
- Wichita, Kansas
- Killeen, Texas
- Little Rock, Arkansas
- Miami, Florida
- Memphis, Tennessee
- Alexandria, Virginia
- Winston-Salem, North Carolina
- Visalia, California
One problem: Not all dog owners pick up their pooch’s poop.
“Dog owners need to be diligent in immediately removing fecal waste in public areas — and at least once a week in their own backyards,” Prior said.
“It’s more than a cosmetic issue. Pet owners who are irresponsible in picking up after their dogs are putting the health of their own dog, other dogs — and the health of everyone in their community at risk.”
Other than being gross, what are roundworms?
They’re the most common intestinal parasite in pets, according to CAPC. Pets get infected by eating roundworm eggs in the environment or eating rodents and birds already infected with the parasites.
Symptoms of roundworm infection include weight loss, diarrhea, vomiting, dull coat, and/or a potbellied appearance. Severe infections can result in death.
Roundworms pose a health risk to humans, especially children.
“People can be infected from handling and accidentally ingesting dirt containing roundworm larva than can migrate to the liver, lungs, muscle and brain,” CPAC said.
“Children are more likely to be infected after playing in contaminated soil. Clinical symptoms vary but are often characterized by fever, malaise, cough and abdominal pain. Severe infections may cause respiratory failure or blindness.”