Did I just get worms?
April 4, 2012 11:25 PM   Subscribe

After eating lunch at a friends house today I was shocked to see that his dog was chewing on a fleshy dear head found in the woods. Now I'm worried that I could have contracted worms from the dog if it had been chewing on the head before it licked my hand when I arrived. Is there anything I can do early on to prevent infection? I don't want worms in my stomach, brain, or anywhere else!
posted by davidriley to Health & Fitness (13 answers total)
 
you did not get worms.
posted by violetk at 11:32 PM on April 4, 2012 [35 favorites]


And in future, treat all dogs as if they all chew on fleshy dear head found in the woods. :)
posted by -harlequin- at 12:03 AM on April 5, 2012 [17 favorites]


I am an epidemiologist. IANY epidemiologist. After you handle *any* animal, living or dead, wash your hands thoroughly with soap. Do not touch your mouth or eyes until you've washed your hands. Thoroughly. With soap.
posted by gingerest at 12:12 AM on April 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, on re-read: no, I'm sorry to say there is not much you can do for prophlaxis for unspecified potential worm infection. If you washed your hands before you ate lunch, and your friend washed his hands before handling your lunch, you're in the clear. Otherwise, you are basically going to have to wait and see if you develop symptoms. You might take a stool sample from the dog in a day or two (once it's had a chance to pass some worms or eggs) and take it to a vet to make sure all's well.

Really, though, I wouldn't be any more worried about contamination from a dog that was eating random rotting deer meat than from a dog that had just been to the park and eaten some nice fresh poop (which is pretty much any dog), and I would actually be less worried about worms and more worried about the usual gastroenteritis viruses and bacteria.
posted by gingerest at 12:29 AM on April 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


Gingerest, is this something that someone with a normally-functioning immune system generally has to worry about?
posted by zachawry at 1:38 AM on April 5, 2012


What exactly? Wormy deer heads? Getting gastroenteritis? Handwashing?

Everyone needs to wash his or her hands.

We pretty much all get the gastro at some point, and if it's not from one of the more horrifyingly dangerous organisms (enterohemorrhagic E. coli, for example), most healthy people with mature immune systems shake it off.

I haven't seen a primary source for the canard that dogs have cleaner mouths than people do. I go back to the basics: if you're not willing to put everything your pet puts in its mouth into yours, then don't let it lick your mouth, and wash your hands before you handle anything that goes into your own mouth. But babies put horrible things in their mouths, and would totally eat poop if unsupervised, and people kiss them fearlessly.

The big deer diseases (bluetongue, meningeal worm, chronic wasting disease) and commensals (nasal botflies and abdominal worms) appear to pose no risk to humans. Basically if you have to lick a big pile of rotting, maggoty meat, firsthand or by proxy, venison is a nice choice.
posted by gingerest at 2:06 AM on April 5, 2012 [36 favorites]


The odds of you getting worms in North America is very very low. Some have gone so far as to suggest that this is a problem.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 2:24 AM on April 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Dogs lick their own potentially wormy butts every day, and they walk in dirt and shit all the time. There is not anything especially wormy about deer heads*, so you are very unlikely to have caught anything of any kind from the dog unless it had also been rolling around in poison ivy. And you would know about that by now.

*Dang. I have dogs, and they are disgusting and they occasionally put dead birds on my couch and stuff, but I would have to say I would draw the line at recreational gnawing of deer heads. If for no other reason than that it's quite disturbing. No wonder you're a little traumatized.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:46 AM on April 5, 2012


I'd be more afraid of the dogs you've touched that had been gnawing on some cat poo or licking their crotch three seconds before you arrived and greeted them. And by 'more afraid' I wouldn't really worry about things beyond normal handwashing. And if I hadn't washed my hands (like if it was a picnic dinner or something) before eating that sandwich I'd simply monitor my health and go about my daily life.

To make a potentially trite and dismissal comparison: You are much more likely to get hit by a car than to get infected by brain eating worms via your friend's dog's kisses.

Sounds like a cool, happy dog though. He's living the dream.
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:50 AM on April 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


Ignore gingerest's advice.

Humans and dogs have lived together for upwards of 50,000 years. If getting licked by a dog were a probably vector for parasitic infestation, that behavior would have been selected against thousands of years ago, while we were cooperatively modifying them from feral wolves.

My dog and I walk in the woods, where all manner of things end up briefly in his mouth. Sometimes other dogs lick or playfully bite him. I don't neurotically wash my hands after touching him, and I don't have worms.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:12 AM on April 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thanks! Here's a photo: https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7096/6902479278_d0bdb335b7_b.jpg
posted by davidriley at 12:01 PM on April 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


For anyone who would like to be aware of such things, that photo is an action shot with the rotting deer head in it.
posted by cairdeas at 1:13 PM on April 5, 2012 [6 favorites]


And this -

Humans and dogs have lived together for upwards of 50,000 years. If getting licked by a dog were a probably vector for parasitic infestation, that behavior would have been selected against thousands of years ago, while we were cooperatively modifying them from feral wolves.

It works the opposite way sometimes, where closeness of contact between species is what allows parasites to continue to spread and reproduce, like with toxoplasmosis.
posted by cairdeas at 1:17 PM on April 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


« Older Unneeded video cards   |   phantom cell phone charges! how? why? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.