Why dog ban is necessary

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 July, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 08 July, 1993, 12:00am

IN response to Anne Dethlefsen's letter (South China Morning Post, July 2) I feel it is important to point out one problem that she has overlooked.

The reason that dogs are prohibited from exercising in certain parks and public beaches is to help prevent environmental contamination and human infections by Toxocara canis.

This is a parasitic worm that is present in virtually all young pups unless preventive measures are taken while the bitch is pregnant.

The major source of environmental contamination by T. canis eggs are pups from two weeks to six months of age and lactating female dogs.

Regular worming of pregnant animals and young pups is an essential part of control of this disease.

In addition control of the stray dog population and controlled access of high risk animals to areas used intensively by the public, especially children, is important.

''Visceral larva migrans'' and ''ocular larva migrans'' are both manifestations of human toxocariasis that arise as a result of humans ingesting eggs of the parasite.

These eggs are present in soil following contamination with dog faeces. (In Scotland there are approximately 10 cases of human toxocara induced disease per year almost all affecting the eye).

Responsible pet ownership must involve removal of dog faeces that contaminate public places and disposal in a refuse container. Children should be encouraged to wash their hands before eating and discouraged from eating soil. Regular worming of pet dogs is essential.

This should be done every two weeks until 12 weeks of age, approximately every three months after that and more frequently in pregnant and lactating dogs.

D. N. GRIFFITHS Senior Veterinary Surgeon Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals