You can lead a horse to water….

Ok, the CDC shows that about 20% of Americans are infected with roundworms, a parasite that lives in the intestines of dogs and cats.  Is that not six different kinds of nasty?  Sadly, there are a few others, including hookworms and giardia, that can infect people and cause problems, especially in kids, the elderly, or people with compromised immune systems.  These little guys are called zoonotic parasites, meaning that they can be transferred from humans to people (and vice versa).  Unfortunately, both roundworms and hookworms cause some pretty serious problems when they infect people–we aren’t their normal host, so they go to places they don’t normally go to–like the brain and eye.  Seriously.

My whole discussion about that is leading up to this.  A young woman and her mother come in with two really adorable kittens from a shelter in the neighboring county.  According to the records, the shelter has done a really good job with routine vaccines, deworming, and testing, but they were adopted some time ago and have had no veterinary care.    This young woman wants to have her cats declawed because she has always had them declawed and she is pregnant.  After discussing with her the complications and the ability to train cats, she still wants them declawed.  Ok, then, we’ll do that.  I also discussed (and so did my technicians) the dangers of zoonotic parasites with pregnancy and children.  My physical exam on both kittens revealed typical symptoms of parasites, mildly thickened intestines and LOTS of gas.  (Gassy kitties are always fun.  Don’t light a match!!!)  I explained that after the surgery, once they defecated, we could get a stool sample and send it out.

The lab work was excellent, they got their final shots, and the surgeries went off without a hitch.  They were playing, eating, and roughhousing within three hours of their surgeries.  After their mandatory two day stay (to avoid going home and having a bloody mess), their owner comes to pick them up.  She refuses to pay to send out the fecal sample.  (Too bad they didn’t poop until the morning of their discharge or I would have sent it out anyway.)  My technician reiterated the dangers of not diagnosing and treating these parasites, and she still refused.  And her mother was standing right next to her.

I simply cannot understand someone who would willingly put their child’s life in danger for $35.  It boggles my mind.


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