Aelurostrongylus spp

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Adult A. abstrusus

Aelurostrongylus spp are a relatively uncommon parasitic nematode of dogs, compared with cats[1].

Species which are pathogenic to dogs include:

  • Aelurostrongylus abstrusus

Dogs acquire infections by ingesting infective larvae encysted with paratenic hosts (usually snails or birds). Larvae then penetrate the intestinal epithelium, where they migrate to the lung parenchyma. Adult females lay eggs in nests. Firs-stage larvae eventually hatch and are carried up the tracheobronchial tree and are eventually swallowed. The prepatent period is 5 - 6 weeks[2].

Symptoms are not always detectable in dogs, as the disease may be asymptomatic or subclinical. When present, the clinical signs are due to the inflammatory response caused by the eggs shed by the adult females and the migration of the first stage larvae (L1) up the bronchial tree causing lesions in the pulmonary alveoli, bronchioles and local arteries[3].

Clinical signs in heavy infestations include coughing, dyspnea, exercise intolerance and pneumonia. Death may be a result if pulmonary hemorrhage and acute respiratory distress syndrome occur.

Diagnosis is by fecal floatation using the Baermann technique, ELISA or PCR assays[4].

A differential diagnosis would include other parasites of the cardiopulmonary system including Angiostrongylus vasorum, Eucoleus aerophilus (Capillaria aerophila), Crenosoma vulpis and Dirofilaria immitis.

Treatment is effective with weekly doses of selamectin, ivermectin or doramectin for 4 - 6 weeks.

References

  1. Becker AC et al (2012) Prevalence of endoparasites in stray and fostered dogs and cats in Northern Germany. Parasitol Res 111(2):849-857
  2. Bowman, DD (2009) Georgis' parasitology for veterinarians. 9th Edn. Elsevier Saunders, Missouri. pp:187-188
  3. Naylor JR et al (1984) Changes in the ultrastructure of feline pulmonary arteries following in infection with the lungworm Aelurostrongylus abstrusus. Br Vet J 140:181–190
  4. Taubert A et al (2009) Lungworm infections (Angiostrongylus vasorum, Crenosoma vulpis, Aelurostrongylus abstrusus) in dogs and cats in Germany and Denmark in 2003-2007. Vet Parasitol 159(2):175-180