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Caring for Dogs to Reduce Spread of Parasite Eggs Harmful to Humans

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The UK dog population is estimated to be around ten million, with dogs producing approximately 1,000 tonnes of excrement each day. New research has shown that dogs act as a major source of the parasite egg, Toxocara, which can potentially contaminate the public environment and infect humans.

The aim of the study, led by Dr Eric Morgan and colleagues from the University of Bristol's School of Veterinary Sciences and published in the international scientific journal, Veterinary Parasitology, was to identify where efforts to control the parasite should focus, in the interests of protecting public health.

The parasitic worm, called Toxocara, is a rare cause of disease in humans, responsible for occasional cases of abdominal pain, loss of sight, and potentially asthma and epilepsy. The link with dogs, host to the adult parasites, has long been accepted, but this study has shown that in spite of decades of efforts through worming and control of dog fouling, the parasite remains common in our pets and on our streets.

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