Dr Wright said: “Picking up dog mess and leaving it lying around in a bag does not help the situation, it needs bagging and binning properly. It’s why I’m backing Barking and Dagenham council’s dog DNA registration scheme – it’s bold, innovative and will help wipe out dog mess problems.”
Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, Councillor Darren Rodwell, said: “It’s well documented that dog mess poses health risks to humans, especially the young. Our mission to wipe our dog mess in Barking and Dagenham will not only help us make a cleaner, better borough, it will help us make a healthier one too.”
European Scientific Council for Companion Animal Parasites (ESCCAP) also threw their weight behind the schemes objectives: "European Scientific Council for Companion Animal Parasites (ESCCAP) UK & Ireland fully supports London Borough of Barking and Dagenham Council’s initiative to reduce dog fouling through DNA registration of dogs. Though this initiative, if dog fouling can continue to be reduced, then transmission of Toxocara will fall and people’s health will benefit as a whole."
What is Toxocara?
Toxocara is a parasite found in cats and dogs which can be passed to humans from eggs passed in cat and dog faeces. Although the eggs are not infective straight away, they develop in soil and as well as posing an infective risk at parks and beaches, may then also go on to contaminate fruit and vegetables, sandpits and children’s toys. People infected through ingesting the eggs can become ill in a number of different ways. The most well-known effect is retinal scarring and eye damage (Ocular larval migrans) that can lead to damaged vision and even blindness. Migrating larvae can also cause damage to organs (visceral larval migrans), causing abdominal pain, headaches and fatigue. Infection has also been linked to an increased risk of epilepsy, dermatitis and asthma.
Whilst the number of cases is low, with only approximately two people per million in the UK diagnosed with health problems associated with Toxocara infection each year, around 2% of the UK population - approximately 1.2 million people have seroconverted (been exposed to infection) so this is likely to be a significant underestimate of the total health problems caused.
Health problems caused by Toxocara infection (toxocariasis) can be prevented by the following steps:
- Monthly deworming of puppies and kittens, and deworming of adult cats and dogs at least 4 times a year.
- Picking up dog mess and encouraging other dog owners to do the same. This can be achieved through public media and through council led initiatives such as the DNA registration campaign organised by Barking and Dagenham council.
- Good hand hygiene after playing in parks and gardens, after cuddling cats and dogs, and before eating.
- Thorough washing of fruit and vegetables intended for raw consumption
- Covering of sandpits when not in use to prevent cats and dogs using them as a toileting area.
ABOUT ESCCAP (European Scientific Council for Companion Animal Parasites) UK & Ireland
ESCCAP UK & Ireland is a National Association of ESCCAP bringing together some of the UK and Ireland's leading experts in the field of veterinary parasitology. ESCCAP UK & Ireland works with pet owners and professionals to raise awareness of the threat from parasites and to provide relevant information and advice.
The European Scientific Counsel for Companion Animal Parasites (ESCCAP) was formed in 2005. It is an independent, not for profit, organisation comprising a group of eminent veterinarians across Europe, all with recognised expertise in the field of parasitology. It is dedicated to providing access to clear and constructive information for veterinarians and pet owners with the aim of strengthening the animal human bond. It works to provide the knowledge essential to help eradicate parasites in
pets and the objective is to have a Europe where parasites are no longer a health issue for pets or humans.
Dr Ian Wright
Dr Ian Wright BVMS BSc MSc MRCVS qualified at Glasgow University and is a practising veterinary surgeon at the Withy Grove Veterinary Surgery and co-owner of the Mount Veterinary Practice in Fleetwood. He has a master’s degree in veterinary parasitology and is an editorial board member for the Companion Animal journal. Ian is regularly published in peer-reviewed journals and peer reviews for JSAP, Companion Animal and Veterinary Parasitology. He continues to carry out research in practice including work on intestinal nematodes and tick-borne diseases.