A campaign by Denbighshire County Council to tackle dog fouling in the county has been backed by a prominent vet and specialist in parasitology.
Ian Wright from Lancashire has specialist qualifications in parasitology and has published a number of research papers. He is head of the European Scientific Council for Companion Animal Parasites, UK and Ireland.
Toxocara is a parasite found in a number of animals, including dogs and it can be passed to humans through infected dog mess.
People could potentially suffer a number of effects. The most well-known and recognisable effect is retinal scarring which can lead to damaged vision, but it can also lead to a variety of health issues such as abdominal pain, lethargy and dermatisis. Infection has also been associated with an increased risk of epilepsy and asthma.
Ian said: "It is vitally important that we drive home the messages about Toxocariasis and the impact it can have on people's health and well-being.
"Whilst the number of cases is low, with only two people per million in the UK diagnosed with health problems, around 2% of the UK population have been exposed to infection, so this is likely to be a significantly under-estimated problem.
"Toxocariasis is easily preventable through regular de-worming of dogs (at least four times a year), picking up dog mess and good hand hygiene before eating and after playing in park and gardens and stroking dogs. The more dogs (and cats) that are unwormed, the greater the risk posed to the public.
"Also picking up dog mess and leaving it lying around in a bag does not help the situation, it needs bagging and binning properly. So I would urge Denbighshire residents to clean up after their dogs and help reduce the risk of health problems.
Emlyn Jones, Public Protection Manager in Denbighshire, said: "The Council is delighted that Ian Wright is lending his support to the campaign. We have done a lot of work around educating the public about cleaning up after their animals, but some people continue to allow their dogs to foul in public without thinking of the health consequences.
"The health risks are clear, but also the anti-social element is unacceptable. Denbighshire residents tell us that dog fouling is one of their greatest concerns. We have listened to their concerns and we are trying to change behaviours and encourage people to clean up after their animals".
The Council already had promoted awareness of the problems that dog fouling can create for local sports clubs, with support from former Wales rugby player Rupert Moon, as well as a number of rugby and football clubs around the county.
People can report dog fouling by visiting the website: www.denbighshire.gov.uk/dogfouling or by contacting the Council, on 01824 706101.