Myxobdella spp

From Dog
Adult hirudinid leech removed from the nasal cavity of a dog

Myxobdella spp are a parasitic hirudinid leech that infects the upper respiratory tract of dogs and other mammals in tropical countries[1].

Orificial hirudiniasis caused by this parasite is a condition in which a leech enters a body orifice, most often the nasopharyngeal region, but there are many cases of leeches infesting the eyes, urethra, vagina, or rectum. Several leech species particularly in Africa and Asia are well-known for their propensity to afflict humans[2].

Species which are recorded as infective to dogs include:

  • Myxobdella annandalei[3]
  • Myxobdella sinaensis
  • Myxobdella africana[4]

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. Deaths in humans have been reported.

Diagnosis is based on historical evidence of nasal disease.

Treatment is relatively effective with mechanical removal of the leech.

Oral or topical dosing with ivermectin or praziquantel may be effective at eliminating hard to reach leeches within the nasal sinuses.


  1. Phillips AJ et al' (2010) Tyrannobdella rex n. gen. n. sp. and the evolutionary origins of mucosal leech infestations. PLoS One 5(4):e10057
  2. Estambale BB et al (1992) Haematemesis and severe anaemia due to a pharyngeal leech (Myxobdella africana) in a Kenyan child: a case report. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg 86(4):458
  3. Gothe R et al (1991) Imported infestations of nasopharyngeal parasites in dogs. Tierarztl Prax 19(1):84-87
  4. Cundall DB et al (1986) Severe anaemia and death due to the pharyngeal leech Myxobdella africana. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg 80(6):940-944