Yesterday, I attended a national seminar that was held in Ballroom IPB International Convention Center, Bogor. The theme of the seminar was ”Potentially Zoonotic Endoparasite on Pet Animals: Cases, Transmission, and Treatment. By the speakers expert in endoparasitology, this event had successfully reminded me, and the other attendances of course, the importance and awareness of the risk of parasite to animals, human being, and environment. Those are Dr. Yusuf Ridwan D.V.M., MSi (helmintologist), Dr. Umi Cahyaningsih D.V.M., MS (protozoologist), and Lie Cucu Kartika D.V.M. (veterinary practitioner).
Endoparasites are parasites that live inside the body of the host. Generally, they’re divided into two groups: parasitic worms (helminths) and protozoans. Both animals and human beings are surely susceptible infected by them depend on immunity, hygiene, virulence, and sustainable environment conditions.
Nowadays, pet animal has unique roles. He can be our friend or even part of family, helps in development of the children’s social and emotional intelligence, becomes a stress-relieve partner, or contributes to the owner’s prosperity. But, there is a very big potential menace to either humans or animals: zoonoses. Zoonoses are infectious diseases that are transmitted from animals to human.
Specifically on helminth, there are some species that potentially cause zoonoses, like roundworms (Toxocara spp., Toxocara leonina) and hookworms (Ancylostoma caninum, A. braziliense) that affect in intestinal, and heartworm (Dirofilaria immitis) that affects in blood circulation. For example, the roundworms host in cats and dogs by the 4 ways of transmissions: oral (eaten of invective eggs), transplacental (the larva form spreads to the placenta), transmammary (ingested of larva through milk), and paratenik (eaten of the larva which is in the tissue organ). Toxocarosis (disease caused by Toxocara infection) causes two main symptoms. Those mean the eggs hatch then the larva penetrate through the intestine wall and carried by the bloodstream causing inflammation (visceral larva migrans), and the time it becomes severe stadium, the larva are carried through the eye (ocular larva migrans). Many kinds of anthelmintic (term of the anti-worm medicines) can be used to cure and prevent at once in pet animals, such as piperazine, ivermectin, fenbendazole, and pyrantel pamoate. But, the most important of all is hygiene, both environment where the pet lives and personal hygine of the pet’s owner.
Talking about protozoas, you definitely know about Toxoplasma. This is a parasite which is the most feared by humans. Layman knows well that toxoplasmosis (disease caused by Toxoplasma) is transmitted by the cat’s feces. It lives intracellular and be able to form cyst (oocyst) which becomes most important live-form infecting the host through intestine. In addition, there’re two kinds of host of toxoplasmosis: definite host (cat as the definite host which the sexual replication of Toxoplasma happened in its intestine) and intermediate host (asexual replication of Toxoplasma happened in many species, such as dogs, pigs, cattle, humans, and rodents).
So, here is the most important part to know: toxoplasmosis is not only caused by cat, but also many species do . Moreover, the production animal, like cows, pigs, have significant roles to transmit through the meat and milk. The main transmission Toxoplasma to human are eating the raw meat or milk which is contaminated with cats’ feces, eating the unwell-cooked meat, and through the placenta in pregnancy. The symptoms are different in each sufferer depend on the immune system: fever, inflammation of lymph nodes, muscle aches, inflamation of retina (chorioretinitis), toxoplasmic encephalitis, pneumonitis, tremor, muscle weakness, flu-like syndrome, and hydrocephalus in newborn. Most veterinarian practitioner in Indonesia cure the toxoplasmosis in cat by giving him clindamycin, sulfadiazine, or doxycycline. And again, the key to prevent the prevalence of toxoplasma is hygiene.
Don’t let your cat hunt for rats and not giving raw meat as cat’s meal. By accustoming use the gloves and wash hand after gardening, cooking the meat and pasteurizing the milk very well, and substituting the litter box of the cat’s cage everyday, expected to minimize to risk of transmission Toxoplasma from animal to human.
I think the keynote of all speeches is hygiene. Personal hygiene. Pet’s hygiene. Environment hygiene. Everything. As long as we keep going and always be consistent in “clean-clean-clean” mindset, we can prevent the occurrence of disease caused by both helminth and protozoans, especially in pet animals. As a vet student, the speeches of seminar improve my knowledge and understandings about the risk of zoonoses, so that I can educate other people – yeah, at least for myself – to have more hygiene practice in every daily activities.