Published Date: 2009-09-07 13:00:10
Subject: PRO/AH/EDR> Angiostrongylus vasorum, canine - UK: (Scotland) 1st report
Archive Number: 20090907.3147
ANGIOSTRONGYLUS VASORUM, CANINE - UK: (SCOTLAND) FIRST REPORT
A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases
Date: Fri 4 Sep 2009
Source: Dumfries & Galloway Standard [edited]
A deadly canine disease has been discovered in Dumfries and Galloway
for the 1st time.
Following the death of a dog in Dumfries, Charnwood Veterinary Centre
veterinary surgeon Richard Payne is keen to make people more aware of
the lungworm infection "angiostrongylosis" that is spreading across
Mr Payne said: "Wet weather conditions have again provided an ideal
environment for a huge increase in the population of slugs and snails
and this could pose a serious risk to dogs that accidentally or
habitually eat these slippery pests.
"Previously unrecognised in this area, angiostrongylosis has a wide
range of symptoms, which can make it difficult to diagnose. However,
with the increasing appearance of the parasite causing this disease,
vets are on the lookout for the condition before it progresses to a
stage where it becomes fatal."
The parasite spends part of its lifecycle in slugs, snails, or even
frogs. The danger to dogs arises when small slugs or snails are
either purposefully or accidentally eaten while rummaging through
undergrowth, eating grass, or taken up when drinking from puddles or
an outdoor water bowl.
Mr Payne added: "The symptoms of the condition are many and varied.
You might notice coughing, reluctance to exercise, depression, weight
loss, fits, vomiting, weakness and paralysis, or persistent bleeding
from minor cuts. However, a small proportion of dogs are hidden
carriers, which means they don't show any symptoms.
"The disease is not treated by using conventional worming tablets
every 3 months, or even every month. However, treatment is relatively
simple and a prescription-only spot-on product can be obtained from
your vet. This treatment also controls other worms, fleas, and mites,
which means you can address lungworm and a number of common parasites
in one application."
Owners who notice any of these symptoms or whose dogs might eat slugs
or snails should contact their local vet for an immediate
consultation. The sooner the disease is spotted, the easier it is to
treat and the more likely the dog will go on to make a full recovery.
[Byline: Jackie Grant]
[The report above is indeed a timely warning to dog owners in
Scotland. The 1st recognised case of _Angiostrongylus vasorum_
infection in a native Scottish dog and its diagnostic confirmation
using polymerase chain reaction was published online on 29 Apr 2009
(reference 1 below).
According to the authors, within the UK, _A. vasorum_ has not
previously been reported in Northern England or Scotland, making the
case described by them unique as the dog had never travelled outside
Central Scotland. They further write: "A recent large-scale survey of
546 foxes in the UK similarly revealed no infected animals north of
the midlands. The case provides important evidence that the
parasite's range is indeed expanding north. It may be that the
extension of the parasite's range reflects a change in climate, with
an increase in intermediate or paratenic hosts. The average spring,
summer, and winter temperatures in Scotland have increased
significantly by over 1 deg C [1.8 deg F] from 1961 to 2004. Whatever
the reason for changing parasite distribution, it is important that
the veterinary profession is aware of its potential presence
throughout the UK including northern regions."
_A. vasorum_ is a metastrongylid nematode of dogs and other canids.
The adults reside in the heart and pulmonary arteries, with
potentially severe consequences for the host. Disease is associated
with coughing, dyspnoea, exercise intolerance, weight loss, vomiting,
abdominal pain, lumbar pain, neurological signs, heart failure,
bleeding diatheses, and sudden death. For further information, see
reference 2 of 2005, in which the authors, from Bristol and Dublin,
said in their abstract: "Recent reports suggest that the canine
heartworm _Angiostrongylus vasorum_ is expanding from traditional
endemic foci in several parts of the world. We are ill placed to
judge the causes and potential consequences of this expansion because
of a lack of knowledge about fundamental aspects of the biology of
the parasite. We call for a renewed focus on this important but
1. Helm, JS Gilleard, M Jackson, E Redman, R Bell (2009): A case of
canine _Angiostrongylus vasorum_ in Scotland confirmed by PCR and
sequence analysis. J Small Anim Pract. 2009 May; 50(5): 255-9.
2. ER Morgan, SE Shaw, SF Brennan, TD De Waal, BR Jones, G Mulcahy
(2005). _Angiostrongylus vasorum_: a real heartbreaker. Trends
Parasitol. 2005 Feb; 21(2): 49-51.
The HealthMap/ProMED-mail interactive map of Scotland is available at
<http://healthmap.org/r/00M5>. - Mod.AS]