Species which are pathogenic to dogs include:
- Acanthamoeba polyphaga
- Acanthamoeba culbertsoni
- Acanthamoeba castellani
Acanthamoeba typically have a single host life cycle, and in dogs autochonous infections are common, particularly in densely housed kennels.
Infective sporozoites within oocysts are ingested by dogs and develop within the epithelium of the small intestine, undergoing schizogony to form schizonts. These schizonts can be found within enterocytes, biliary epithelium associated with hepatitis and even the uterine epithelium.
Although normally nonpathogenic in dogs, Acanthamoeba should be considered in any dog which present with diarrhea, where this parasite appears more prevalent. Mixed intestinal infections with Acanthamoeba and enteropathogenic bacteria (e.g. Salmonella spp) often exacerbated clinical diarrhea.
Diagnosis is based on coprological identification of sporozoites. Isolation is maximized using 33% zinc sulfate.
Treatment is usually effective with metronidazole or sulfaquinoxaline.
In dogs with systemic illness, prednisone (3.2 mg/kg orally once daily and azathioprine (2 mg/kg orally once daily) are recommended.
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