This picture doesn’t show a child's heart infected with a dog parasite

Published: 22nd Mar 2019

In brief

Claim

An image shows a parasitic worm in a child’s heart, caught from a dog due to close contact.

Conclusion

Incorrect. The picture is of an infected dog’s heart. The parasite can only be passed from an infected dog to a human via mosquito, not direct contact.

Please not that some of the links in this article are to images that are potentially distressing.

A Facebook post, claiming to show a child’s heart infected with a parasite caught from a dog, has been shared almost 40,000 times.

The post says: “I’m sending you a kid’s heart that, due to sleeping and kissing his dog, it transmitted its parasites. Those parasites blocked his heart and he died here at the Children’s Hospital.”

The picture does not show a child’s heart. It comes from a 2012 scientific paper about a dog parasite, and shows the parasitic worms in a dog’s heart.

The worms are Dirofilaria immitis, a parasite which can get into the hearts of dogs and sometimes cats. Humans can catch it too, but it can’t get as far as their hearts, though it can cause nodules in the lungs.

Humans can’t catch the parasite directly from dogs

The parasite is transmitted from dog to dog (or cat or human) via mosquito. Being near an infected dog (and mosquito) might mean that you are more likely to catch the parasite, but—despite what the post claims—direct contact is not how it spreads.

This article is part of our work factchecking potentially false pictures, videos and stories on Facebook. You can read more about this—and find out how to report Facebook content—here. For the purposes of that scheme, we’ve rated this claim as a false because the picture isn’t what it says it is and the parasite can’t spread as the post suggests.


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