AUG 27, 2019 9:43 AM PDT

Parasitic Worm Capable of Infecting People Now Found in Dogs

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

There are some small roundworms, also called nematodes, in the genus Strongyloides that can infect animals. Two species can infect people, including Strongyloides stercoralis. For the first time, researchers have found these parasitic nematodes in dogs in remote parts of northern Australia. The roundworm usually dwells in soil and was identified in dog feces samples by scientists from Flinders University working with US researchers.

"Ultimately, we were able to confirm for the first time that potentially zoonotic S. stercoralis populations are present in Australia and suggest that dogs might represent a potential reservoir of human strongyloidiasis in remote Australian communities," said Flinders graduate candidate Mira Beknazarova.

The parasitic worm is thought to infect as many as 370 million people worldwide, primarily in developing regions with poor sanitation and afflicted by poverty. Usually, people become infected by coming into contact with dirt that harbors the parasite; it can pass through the skin into the body, and moves to the gut to lay eggs. It causes strongyloidiasis, which impacts the gut and causes bloating, cramping, and diarrhea. Symptoms might arise about two weeks after infection and may also include nausea, constipation, weakness, or vomiting, and can lead to weight loss.

There are drugs that can treat a Strongyloides infection. However, doctors often don't know to look for the infection, which can persist and becomes chronic.

In this work, which was reported in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, 273 samples of dog and four samples of human feces were screened to assess their DNA content. The researchers found two types of this parasitic worm.

"Our study was able to independently support previous reports of at least two genetically distinct groups of S. stercoralis; one infecting both dogs and humans and another group that is specific to dogs," Beknazarova revealed.

Flinders University researcher Mira Beknazarova tested more than 270 dog faeces samples collected in remote Australian communities. / Credit:  Flinders University

This work does not indicate that the parasite is being transmitted from dogs to humans, the researchers cautioned. Dr. Kirstin Ross of Flinders University noted that the study stresses the need for preventative strategies.

"Much needs to be done if you consider the risk to older and younger residents of Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities in northern Australia who are at risk of infection," said Dr. Ross.

"The latest results strongly support moves to treat both humans and dogs for the infection," she added.


Sources: AAAS/Eurekalert! via Flinders University, PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases

About the Author
  • Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on over 30 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 70 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
You May Also Like
AUG 24, 2020
Immunology
Injectable Drug Stops HIV From Entering Cells
AUG 24, 2020
Injectable Drug Stops HIV From Entering Cells
Once in the body, HIV tracks down T cells that bear the CD4 receptor. It attaches to these immune cells, fusing itself w ...
AUG 24, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
Towards a Cure for Latent Herpes 1 Infections
AUG 24, 2020
Towards a Cure for Latent Herpes 1 Infections
Herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) causes what's popularly known as cold sores, and is transmitted mostly through oral-t ...
AUG 31, 2020
Microbiology
Finding a Weakness in an Emerging Drug-Resistant Pathogen
AUG 31, 2020
Finding a Weakness in an Emerging Drug-Resistant Pathogen
Candida auris is a fungal pathogen that was initially reported in 2009. Its origins are unclear, but it has been found i ...
SEP 09, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
Why Liver Gene Therapies Have Not Worked & How to Improve Them
SEP 09, 2020
Why Liver Gene Therapies Have Not Worked & How to Improve Them
Diseases that are caused by errors in a gene might be cured if we could correct those errors, or genetic mutations.
SEP 15, 2020
Microbiology
If They Must, Methane-Eating Microbes Will Consume Ammonia
SEP 15, 2020
If They Must, Methane-Eating Microbes Will Consume Ammonia
There are many different kinds of microbes, and some can use unusual substances to survive. Methanotrophs, for example, ...
NOV 10, 2020
Neuroscience
Nanoparticles Pass the Blood-Brain Barrier in Zebrafish
NOV 10, 2020
Nanoparticles Pass the Blood-Brain Barrier in Zebrafish
Video:  Explains the challenges of delivering medicine to the brain, and possibly tools to pass the blood-brain bar ...
Loading Comments...