Pinworms are internal parasites that can affect several different types of animals. They grow in the small intestines. Rabbits and horses are just two of the animals that are susceptible to certain types of this parasite. Pinworms that affect horses can only affect horses; a rabbit cannot host horse pinworms. Humans who are exposed to animal pinworms will not be unaffected by the exposure. While dogs and cats can easily catch tapeworms, they are not susceptible to a pinworm infection.
Pinworms can be found in pet animals and wild animals. This parasite is only known to affect mammals. Several mammals can be affected by pinworm parasites including rabbits, gerbils, hampsters and horses. However, only certain types of pinworms can affect a certain animal species. For example, the pinworm passalurus ambiguus affects rabbits, and the pinworms dentostomella translucida, S. muris and S. obvelate affect gerbils. Hampsters can be affected by the pinworms S. mesocriceti and S. criceti.
Pinworm parasites do not need to pass through intermediate hosts. This property is referred to as a direct life cycle. Pinworms can be transmitted from animal to animal through oral contact with fecal matter. When an animal ingests embryonated pinworm eggs, they will usually end up a host for developed pinworms. Pinworm eggs are long-lived and can survive in the open environment for quite a while without a host. Some types of pinworms offer a short life cycle, allowing for retroinfection; eggs can cling to fur, hatch, crawl and reinfect the animal.
There are several signs of a pinworm infection in animals. Poor hair coat, excessive itching, weight loss and rectal prolapse are all signs that an animal may be suffering from a pinworm infection. Anal swabbing and perianal tape testing are both methods of discovering pinworm ova. Examining colonic or cecal content is perhaps the best method for diagnosing a pinworm infection. This type of examination is an effective way to identify pinworm species. Older animals may develop immunities to pinworms. Pinworm detection is easier in animals that have not yet reached adulthood.
Pinworm eggs are resilient and difficult to destroy. Rigorous environmental decontamination is required to prevent pinworm reinfection because pinworm eggs resist dessication and many disinfectants. High temperatures can be used to decontaminate an environment from pinworm eggs. A week-on, week-off fenbendazole regimen is recommended to relieve mice, rats and most other animals of a pinworm infection.