Sandbox safety and poop — Michelle Mazur

Cats view sandboxes as a giant litterboxes.

Uncovered sandboxes can pose a threat to a child’s health if there is fecal matter in the sand.  Dogs, raccoons, and especially cats may use this area as a bathroom space.  These animals are known to carry many parasites, such as hookworms, roundworms, whipworms, tapeworms, and coccidia.

If a child puts her fingers in her mouth, she can be infecting herself with the eggs of a parasite.  In some cases, the hookworms will penetrate the skin, causing a condition called cutaneous larva migrans. In 2006, a summer camp in Florida reported an outbreak of cutaneous larva migrans involving 18 campers and four staff members. Cat feces in a sandbox was thought to be the source of the infection.

Scott Weese, a veterinarian and publisher of the Worms and Germs blog, said recently,
"There’s certainly no indication that children should not go into sandboxes. These are extremely rare diseases that affect a very, very small number of people in North America every year."

But if a child puts a handful of sand in his mouth, that might just be the winning ticket to the parasite lottery.

Some preventative measures to keep the parasites out of the sandbox are:

~ Cover the sandbox when it is not in use.  Commercial sandboxes come with covers, or a simple board with a brick on top of it will help to keep wild animals out of the sandbox.

~ Supervise children when they are playing in the sandbox and prevent them from putting their hands in their mouths.

~ Always, always, after coming in from playing outside, wash your hands.

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About Douglas Powell

A former professor of food safety and the publisher of, Powell is passionate about food, has five daughters, and is an OK goaltender in pickup hockey. Download Doug’s CV here. Dr. Douglas Powell editor, retired professor, food safety 3/289 Annerley Rd Annerley, Queensland 4103 61478222221 I am based in Brisbane, Australia, 15 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time