PTY student Philippa Ball organised a two day workshop on 19-20 March to raise awareness of how dog-fouling in parks affects levels of the parasite Toxocara canis in soil.
The event was part of Biosciences’ ‘Learn About Life’ series which links up with National Science and Engineering Week to engage school children with the life sciences through interactive discussions and hands-on activities.
The school children entered simulated park environments to assess the level of parasitism in ‘dirty’ parks (high parasite density) or ‘clean’ parks with no dog poo (low parasite density). The workshop was very well-received, and the participants were eager to demonstrate how to correctly remove and dispose of (fake!) dog poo. They also took part in discussions regarding the health risks associated with dog fouling, the diversity of parasites that occur naturally in the environment, and control measures that can be implemented to reduce soil contamination. Good fun was had by all in the hunt for parasites and dog poo, before the children left with a take home message – ‘Simple control measures can break parasite life cycles’. The workshop ties in with Philippa’s BARC (Bag and Remove Cymru) project which aims to raise awareness of Toxocara canis and tackle the socio-economic problems linked to dog fouling in collaboration with Keep Wales Tidy, Cardiff County Council and Bristol Veterinary School.