Australian-first study on canine intestinal worms in dog parks reveals high contamination Australia-wide

canine intestinal worms in dog parks

Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health has collaborated with The University of Melbourne to conduct a study on the ‘faecal prevalence, distribution and risk factors associated with canine soil-transmitted helminths contaminating urban parks across Australia.’ 

The study—due for publication in the International Journal for Parasitology later this year—is the first of its kind in Australia and involved the collection of 1581 environmental faecal samples from 190 urban parks across the country. 

Seven species of canine soil-transmitted helminths were identified in the study, including whipworm, threadworm, roundworms, and hookworms. 

Dog parks provide an ideal urban space where dogs and their owners can exercise, play and socialise. These parks can, however, increase the risk of exposure to parasites for both dogs and people, as most canine soil-transmitted helminths are zoonotic and can also infect and cause disease in humans.

Overall, the study revealed a high rate of contamination of canine intestinal worms in dog parks across the nation. 

Coinciding with World Zoonoses Day on the 6 July, the results of the study highlight the importance of education to raise awareness of responsible pet ownership, including monthly deworming, to minimise the animal and public health risks associated with these parasites. 

“Preventative measures, such as monthly deworming of dogs, and responsible pet ownership, such as the immediate removal of dog faeces in parks, should be encouraged to minimise the health risks associated with canine intestinal worms to both dogs and humans,” said Rebecca Traub, Professor of Veterinary Parasitology at The University of Melbourne and the primary investigator of the study.

“Canine soil-transmitted helminths are endemic to Australia and, as shown by this study, are highly prevalent in some areas. 

“Many dog owners are aware of these worms in dogs and the health issues they can cause, including vomiting, diarrhoea, and anaemia. Less well known are the effects, potentially very serious, they can have on humans.”  

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