Sometimes in this world, it’s the little things that can cause the most problems. Really, really little things.
This is especially true for anyone working around or with livestock in Maine, according to Dr. Anne Lichtenwalner, director of the University of Maine Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and associate professor of animal and veterinary science.
Some farm animals can actually “share” parasites with their human companions.
“There are actually just a handful of parasites that I worry about,” Lichtenwalner said. “These are critters that are parasites that can live inside you and tend not to be fatal, but that can cause some ugly surprises.”
The two most common zoonotic parasites — those that can transfer from animals to humans — in Maine are Ascaris suum and Cryptosporidium.
“You are protected by your innate and acquired immune system,” Lichtenwalner said. “When you are healthy and practice good hygiene there are not too many things that can get you, but you do need to be savvy and protect yourself.”
Pigs and worms
Ascaris suum — or roundworm — is most commonly found in pigs and their manure, according to Lichtenwalner and, as parasites go, has a pretty simple life cycle.
Julia Bayly is a reporter at the Bangor Daily News with a regular bi-weekly column. Julia has been a freelance travel writer/photographer since 2000.
More by Julia Bayly