Can Humans Get Tapeworms from Cats

Can humans get tapeworms from cats is an interesting question to which the answer is very rarely?

Infection can occur when ingesting substances that are contaminated by cat waste which is infested with tapeworm eggs.

This is a possibility when an infected cat sleeps on the owner’s bed, as tapeworm eggs stick to the cat’s fur.

The eggs may come in contact with the human body and enter through the mouth.

Symptoms of infection may not appear for years.

Can Humans Get Tapeworms from Cats

Worms and Fleas

Dipylidium caninum is the most common cat tapeworm and is not contagious to humans.  Tapeworms are far more common than uncooked, infected meat.

The Echinococcus multilocularis tapeworm is found in foxes, coyotes, dogs, cats, and rodents.   This can cause a rare disorder called Alveolar echinococcosis (AE).  While the majority of infections in humans are asymptomatic, slowly enlarging cysts in the liver, lungs, and other organs can often grow unnoticed for years.  

A study published by the PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases observed just forty-one echinococcosis-related deaths in the United States between 1990 and 2007.

Deworming tapeworm treatment is critical to prevent transmission to humans (typically children), and for preventing damage to the cat.  Simple hygiene steps such as hand washing after handling cats and wearing gloves when cleaning litter trays are sensible precautions.

Threadworms in humans

Tapeworms appear as pieces of white thread in human faeces.

They can appear around a child’s bottom. They often come out at night while a child is asleep.

Other symptoms can include:

  • extreme itching around the anus or vagina, particularly at night
  • irritability and waking up during the night

Less common signs of worms include:

  • weight loss
  • wetting the bed
  • irritated skin around the anus

A pharmacist can help with threadworms

It is not usually necessary to see a doctor.  Mebendazole is available from pharmacies to treat threadworms.  This is usually a chewable tablet or liquid you swallow.

Everyone in the household should be treated, even if they do not have symptoms.

Medicine kills the threadworms, but it does not kill the eggs. Eggs can live for up to 2 weeks outside the body.

Steps to avoid reinfection:

  • wash hands and scrub under fingernails – particularly before eating, after using the toilet or changing nappies
  • encourage children to wash hands regularly
  • bathe or shower every morning
  • rinse toothbrushes before using them
  • keep fingernails short
  • wash sleepwear, sheets, towels and soft toys (at a hot temperature)
  • disinfect kitchen and bathroom surfaces
  • vacuum and dust with a damp cloth
  • make sure children wear underwear at night – change it in the morning’
  • do not shake clothing or bedding, to prevent eggs from landing on other surfaces
  • do not share towels or flannels
  • do not bite nails or suck thumbs and fingers

Conclusion Can Humans Get Tapeworms from Cats

As mentioned at the start of the article it is very rare that humans can be infected by tapeworms through cats, especially if you take all the hygiene proportions into consideration.

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