Cat Worms in Humans

Owning a cat comes with a list of responsibilities, including quality vet care. Worming or treating cat worms is a core part of the vet care cat owners should give their pets.

While worming serves to keep your cat healthy, it’s also essential in reducing the zoonoses potential of cat worms. 

Because of the zoonotic risk, any signs of worms in your cat will most likely make you wonder, “do cat worms infect humans?” This write-up will answer all your questions about cat worms and humans. That includes discussing the necessary measures you should take to reduce cat worm risk to humans.

Can Cats Worms Pass to Humans?

Cat worms

Most cat diseases only affect felines. However, there are feline diseases with zoonotic potential that can be transmitted to humans. Some of these belong to the category of cat worms. 

The risk of cat worms transfer to humans is low. This is especially true for people with a strong immune system. 

Persons with an immature or compromised immune system are at greater risk of cat worms infection. These include children, the elderly, and people on treatment for chronic diseases like cancer. Cat worms and pregnancy are also a risky combination for cat worms transfer to humans. 

It’s important to note that not all cat worms have zoonotic potential. Among the four most common cat worm infections, roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms, and whipworms, only the first three cat worms pass to humans. You can find details on cat worms contagious to humans in the next section.

Worms Cats Can Give to Humans?

Cat owners often wonder what type of cat worms can affect them and their families. We’ll limit our focus to the four most common types of worms in cats to tell you how do cat worms infect humans. We’ll also discuss what to do to protect your family and yourself from cat worms infection.

Do Cat Roundworms Infect Humans?

Yes! Cats with roundworms pose a zoonotic risk. Cat roundworm transfer to humans happens when humans accidentally ingest roundworm eggs. These eggs are disposed into the environment through an infected cat or dog feces. The eggs can survive in the soil for years.

Humans can get cat roundworms by:

  • Eating infected salad that’s not washed thoroughly.
  • Accidentally ingesting roundworm eggs while gardening on contaminated soil (children can also swallow the eggs while playing with dirt).
  • Failing to clean your hands after interacting with an infected cat. Roundworms in cats produce thousands of eggs daily. The eggs can stick to cat fur when passed with feces and pass to humans when they interact with cats.

People with a sound immune system can counter roundworm eggs entering their bodies by accidental ingestion. In some cases, however, ingested roundworms hatch into larvae and migrate to the lungs, liver, and other body organs.

Migrating roundworms may not cause any apparent cat worms humans symptoms. In severe, though, roundworms can cause tissue and nerve damage. According to the CDC, roundworms can even cause permanent damage to the eye nerves and lead to blindness.

Do Cat Tapeworms Infect Humans?

Cats get tapeworms by ingesting infected fleas. Similarly, cat tapeworms can pass to humans when they accidentally swallow an infected flea. Swallowing a tapeworm-infected flea is especially facilitated by the fact that fleas move around by jumping. As such, they can land in your food and pass to the mouth unnoticed. 

Humans can also get other types of tapeworms by eating infected meat. Some types of tapeworms cause hydatid disease. The disease favors the growth of cysts in body organs.

Do Cat Hookworms Infect Humans?

While hookworms don’t infect humans as intestinal parasites, they can be picked by humans from the soil. The result is a cat worms on skin infection known as cutaneous larval migrans

Hookworm infection in humans happens when you walk barefoot on infected soil. The hookworm larva penetrates the skin and burrows underneath, causing itching and skin irritation.

Do Cat Whipworms Infect Humans?

Cats cannot pass the cat whipworm species like Trichuris serrata and Trichuris campanula to humans. In other words, cat whipworms do not have a zoonotic risk.

However, humans can get Trichuris trichiura, the human whipworm. The human whipworm species is passed to the environment in human feces. Other humans are infected when they accidentally ingest the whipworm eggs.

Can You Prevent Cat Worms from Getting to Humans?

Cat worms
Photo Credit: artchicky33

Preventing cat worms on humans primarily relies on the prevention and treatment of worms in cats. Since poor sanitation is a primary reason why cats get worms, proper hygiene is key in preventing cat worms transfer to humans.

Here are some tips for preventing cat worms in humans:

  • Worm your cat regularly and as directed by the veterinarian.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly after touching soil. This will remove any accidental cat worm eggs from your hands. 
  • Drink only boiled or bottled water if you live in cat worms’ high-risk areas. You can check the PAPC’s parasite prevalence maps to get an idea of how prone your area is to cat worms.
  • Ensure high hygienic levels in your home and compound. Do this by cleaning your cat’s litter box daily and removing pet feces immediately from the compound.
  • Thoroughly clean garden vegetables and fruits. Cleaning them well will rid them of any attaching cat worm eggs.
  • Keep children from playing in areas with plenty of dog and cat poo.
  • Avoid walking barefoot in cat worms high-risk areas.
  • Avoid raw food such as meat and garden fruits and vegetables if you live in cat worms high-risk areas. 

Final Thoughts

Are cats worms contagious? Yes! There are cat worms humans can get if they accidentally ingest worm eggs. These include roundworms and tapeworms. Other cat worms, like hookworms, can get into the human body by penetrating the skin.

Ensure your cat is free from worms by faithfully administering the year-round broad-spectrum cat dewormers. That way, you and your family are also safe from cat worm-risk.

Featured Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons