Parasitic worms have been found in New York City, which raises a major concern about children playing in parks.
New York City officials are warning parents after small parasitic worms were found in the parks of New York City. The worms have been found in all five boroughs. The worms are known as Toxocara and live in the muscles and digestive systems of animals. They can spread to humans from dog or cat feces. Children may consume the worms if they eat grass or dirt at the parks.
Serious infections may show a rash, abdominal pain, fever, coughing, and fatigue. In rare cases the worms can travel to the eyes and result in blindness. According to the CDC, 14% of the US has been infected with the parasite. Seventy people, mostly children became blind. The Bronx has the highest amount of Toxocara parasites so far in about 67%. Staten Island, 39% and Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan have rates that range from 30-33%.
"I think the finding of Toxocara is both important and unsurprising. It is really important for us to understand that these neglected tropical diseases, toxocariasis being one of them, are still a huge problem– the extent of which we do not know yet," says Thomas Nutman, chief of the parasitic diseases laboratory at Maryland's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.