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What is Toxocariasis?

The human infection (toxocariasis) is rare and is caused by roundworm parasites. It usually affects young children.This is because children are more likely to come into contact with contaminated soil when they play and put their hands in their mouths. However, cases have been reported in people of all ages. Toxocariasis may occur if mature Toxocara (roundworm) eggs are swallowed, however, it is very rare for anyone to become ill as a result. About 1-2% of healthy adults in the UK already possess Toxocara antibodies which means that they have been exposed to Toxocara eggs or larvae with no ill effects.

On the rare occasions when human disease does occur, it usually causes only mild symptoms. In exceptional cases it can cause damage to the eye in young children this is called ocular toxocariasis. The chances of developing toxocariasis are low. It is estimated that there are only about two new cases of disease due to Toxocara infection per million of the population each year. A study on toxocariasis in school children in Ireland found that of 121,156 pupils surveyed eleven ocular toxocariasis cases were identified. The estimated number of definite cases of ocular toxocariasis was 6.6 cases per 100,000 persons. When ophthalmologists on Merseyside whose hospital practices served a population of about 200,000 children were asked about cases of ocular toxocariasis they could only recall 3 cases of ocular toxocariasis between them in the previous 20 years. 

Advice to Pet Owners

  • Parents and children should be aware of the dangers associated with puppies, kittens and older dogs and cats.
  • Many puppies are infested with the roundworm parasites from birth, as a pregnant dog can pass the parasites to her puppies before they're born.
  • All dogs and cats require regular de-worming with anti-worm medicine. See your vet for regular check-ups and for specific advice on how to treat your pet.
  • The parasite eggs responsible for toxocariasis can survive for many months in sand or soil, so all pet faeces should be collected anddisposed of immediately.

Roundworm parasites are most commonly found in cats, dogs and foxes. The worms may cause sickness and diarrhoea in young animals. Adult dogs generally show no signs of ill health but still need regular worming. 

If every owner treated their dog with a worming preparation, and cleared up after their dog, toxocariasis would be virtually eradicated. The eggs only become infectious after 10-21 days, so there's no immediate danger from fresh animal faeces. However, once the eggs are passed into sand or soil, they can survive for many months. 

Prevention

Practising good hygiene can help prevent toxocariasis. Some of the steps you can take are listed below:

  • Wash your hands well with soap and warm water after handling pets or coming into contact with sand or soil.
  • Teach children to always wash their hands after playing with dogs or cats, after playing outdoors and before eating.
  • Wash food that may have come into contact with soil.
  • Try to avoid letting children play in areas where there's a lot of dog or cat faeces.
  • Teach children that it's dangerous to eat dirt or soil.

The eggs only become infectious after 10-21 days, so there's no immediate danger from fresh animal faeces. However, once the eggs are passed into sand or soil, they can survive for many months.

What to say to someone who has lost a pet

Our pets give us love, companionship, joy and comfort so it’s therefore no surprise that when a pet is no longer part of their owner’s life – whether due to death, being lost or needing to be rehomed – people can experience the same level of grief as they would at the death of a close relative.

Unfortunately, not everyone understands this grief, and it can be a very lonely experience without the right support. It is also difficult to know what to say to someone you know in this situation.

There are simple things that friends and family can do to help others when they are grieving for a pet on the Blue Cross site here.

Dog Theft

Dog theft is on the rise, and as such, Neighbourhood Watch and Dogs Trust are urging the public to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity. In 2016 alone, nearly 1,800 instances of dog theft were reported to police forces across England and Wales. Information obtained by Dogs Trust through a Freedom of Information request also reveals that gardens, closely followed by the home, are the most common areas from which dogs were reported stolen.

Any kind of theft is distressing, but when a dog is stolen,  the experience can be even more distressing as many consider their dog is a part of the family.

The most common breed of  dog reported as stolen is the Staffordshire Bull-terrier, followed then by the Jack Russell, Chihuahua and the Bulldog. But Dogs Trust warns that any dog, whatever the breed, is at risk of theft if left unsupervised.

Your dog can be kept much safer by making small changes to the garden and the home, and by registering to a local Neighbourhood Watch scheme. When it comes to garden security aim to keep the dog in, but keep thieves out!

Dogs Trust advises never to leaving your dog unattended, and has put together the following advice on how to help protect your dog from the risk of theft and what to do should the worst happen.

Whether you own a dog or not, intruders should not be able to access your garden or property.

More advice is available: 

Protecting your dog against theft on the the Blue Cross site

The Pets Bureau site is also full of helpful ideas.

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This is the home page of the Meerkats.Why did we choose the Meerkat? The Meerkat belongs to the mongoose family. It is famous for standing upright looking out for eagles and hawks that might attack their community.


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A Meerkat is always careful.

Meerkats work together to keep themselves safe. When a deadly puff adder attacked a burrow the meerkats helped each other and carried all their babies to safety.


 When they want to be safe, meerkats go to their burrow.

 Like the meerkat you can learn to be watchful and help to keep yourself safe. Meerkats teach us not to let our guard down and work together to keep our community safe from dangers.

We do not live in the wild, but we do have to know about the world around us because sometimes other people, or things we do, can be unsafe. 

The Meerkat pages will help you to find out how you can help yourself and your friends to stay safe.