Parasitic worms are a veterinary or medical problem but they are included here because some may be transmitted by rats, mice or certain insects.

Threadworms are fairly common in dogs, cats and children. They are thin whitish wrigglers about 5mm long, normally only detected after they have passed out of the gut. They may cause intense anal itching at night in young children. The trouble normally starts when threadworms’ eggs are swallowed with unwashed, contaminated fruit or raw vegetables or from food handled by unwashed hands.

REMEDY: Prevention by washing all fruit and vegetables before eating, washing hands before meals, thorough cooking of all meat (especially pork which may harbour the serious tapeworm cysts).

For your pets, proprietary veterinary worming powders or pills are available from chemists. Children affected should be taken to the doctor, who will prescribe effective medicine that clears the problem in a few days. As a precaution, all members of the family will probably be asked to take the cure.