Linguatula spp

From Dog
Adult Linguatual serrata

Linguatula spp are a zoonotic parasitic worm-like pentastomid that infects the upper digestive tract of dogs and other mammals in Asia, the Meditteranean and Middle East[1].

Species which are recorded as infective to dogs include:

  • Linguatula serrata[2]
  • Linguatula tenioides

Although this parasite is relatively nonpathogenic in dogs, it can result in oral lesions, and may secondarily infect the nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses, causing granulomas[3].

In dogs with heavy infections, this parasite can cause rhinitis, characterized by epistaxis, stertor and dyspnea as a result of hypersensitivity to nymphs of Linguatula serrata.

This rare disease, known as Marrara syndrome has been reported in sub-Saharan countries[4].

In dogs, they normally reside in the small intestine where they reproduce and shed eggs. They are usually found during routine helminth surveys of urban dog populations.

Diagnosis is based on historical evidence of nasal disease[5] and coprological examination of eggs or identification of Linguatula adults in nasal cavities or small intestine.

An experimental ELISA has been developed but is not usually required[6].

Treatment is relatively effective with praziquantel.


  1. Nourollahi Fard SR et al (2011) Mesenteric and mediastinal lymph node infection with Linguatula serrata nymphs in sheep slaughtered in Kerman slaughterhouse, southeast Iran. Trop Anim Health Prod 43(1):1-3
  2. Meshgi B & Asgarian O (2003) Prevalence of Linguatula serrata infestation in stray dogs of Shahrekord, Iran. J Vet Med B Infect Dis Vet Public Health 50(9):466-467
  3. Miclăuş V et al' (2008) Histological evidence for inoculative action of immature Linguatula serrata in lymph nodes of intermediate host. Parasitol Res 102(6):1385-1387
  4. Yagi H et al' (1996) The Marrara syndrome: a hypersensitivity reaction of the upper respiratory tract and buccopharyngeal mucosa to nymphs of Linguatula serrata. Acta Trop 62(3):127-134
  5. Gothe R et al (1991) Imported infestations of nasopharyngeal parasites in dogs. Tierarztl Prax 19(1):84-87
  6. Jones DA & Riley J (1991) An ELISA for the detection of pentastomid infections in the rat. Parasitology 103(3):331-337