What is the Most Dangerous Tapeworm for Humans?

Do you regularly treat your dog with a dewormer such as Praziquantel ? If not, then you could be putting both your pet and your family at risk of tapeworm infection. Although tapeworm infections are not as common today as they once were, the need to use dewormer pet meds remains a priority. Not only does infestation by these parasites cause health problems for animals, but if left untreated can be inadvertently transferred to humans.

There are a large number of tapeworm species, and the ones which are most dangerous to humans are those in the Echinococcus group. Echinococcus granulosus and Echinococcus multilocularis are the smallest known tapeworm species, measuring between 2 and 6mm in length but their size is not indicative of the damage that they can cause.

How Echinococcus Tapeworm Infection Occurs

The Echinococcus tapeworm is a parasite, which means that it lives in the organs of another animal the host. Dogs can become infested with Echinococcus granulosus when they come in contact with the faeces of infected sheep or cattle. At this stage the dog becomes the host and carrier for the tapeworm, but usually will not become clinically ill. Echinococcus multilocularis is similarly passed on to dogs and cats by contact with the tapeworm eggs.

If a family pet becomes infested with tapeworm, contact with the pet can potentially result in transmission to a human host. This is most likely to occur when cuddling, stroking or otherwise enjoying close contact with a dog or cat. Animal faeces can also carry tapeworm eggs, as can wild berries which have not been thoroughly washed before consuming them. In humans, infection by Echinococcus granulosus is called Cystic Hydatid Disease and infection by Echinococcus multilocularis is called Alveolar Hydatid Disease. These conditions are very serious and if left untreated will cause severe symptoms and can be fatal. Human infection by these parasites can be confirmed by a doctor, and treated with anti-parasitic medication and if necessary, surgery to remove the cysts.

Protecting Your Pets & Family from Tapeworm

Fortunately, protecting your pets and family from infection from tapeworm such as Echinococcus is not difficult. Your first responsibility is to engage in an active protection strategy for your pet. You can do this by following a regular schedule of treatment with dewormer pet meds like Praziquantel. A second, and equally important task is to ensure that everyone in the family from the youngest child to the grandmother understands the importance of thorough hand-washing, especially after playing with a pet or cleaning up after it has pooped! Using these two methods will keep your home free from tapeworm infection, for happy, healthy pets and owners.