Can cats pass worms to humans? Yes, is the answer but unusually.
The name for roundworms is ‘ascarids’. Ascarids can cause a disease in humans. It is called visceral larva migrans. It is one of the top zoonotic diseases. Zoonotic diseases are those that can pass from animal to human and vice versa. The dog is most likely to pass this diseases to people through the ascarid called Toxocara canis. However, Toxocara cati can also cause the disease (the feline version). It seems it is more likely to occur in areas where the climate is mild and in respect of kids. Some kids eat dirt and ingest the parasite. Outdoor sandboxes are a potential source of transmission. They should be covered when not being used by kids. When gardening, gloves should be worn.
When a person eats a roundworm the larva does not develop into an adult but migrates in the tissue causing fever and other illnesses. The larva can make its way to the child’s eye causing the loss of the eye. The disease in people lasts about one year.
Unusually, a child could eat a flea from a housecat. Cat fleas eat tapeworm segments and egg packets in the cat’s stool. The tapeworm is then passed to the child. The cat will eat the fleas too and ingest the immature tapeworms. The chances of a child getting a tapeworm from the family cat is very small.
Hookworm larvae in soil penetrate the skin of a person and then travel throughout the body. The symptoms are lumps, streaks beneath the skin with itching. The condition is called ‘ground itch’ – cutaneous larval migrans.
Whipworms are apparently quite rare in cats. The cat can ingest eggs in water or food contaminated with these worms. The worm’s eggs can be passed in cat feces but care needs to be exercised to diagnose the correct parasite. Most often people are infected with the human version of this worm.
There are many articles on worms on this website. Please use the custom search. Please click this link to read about deworming treatments.
Note: I have never even given a thought to the possibility of getting worms from my cats. I am sure most people are like me. Cat deworming treatments are common and it is standard practice to deworm a cat. Rescue centers do it routinely, for instance.