Published Date: 2012-02-04 09:44:21
Subject: PRO/AH/EDR> Angiostrongylus vasorum, canine - Switzerland
Archive Number: 20120204.1032698
ANGIOSTRONGYLUS VASORUM, CANINE - SWITZERLAND
A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases
Date: 01 Feb 2012
Source: The Local (Switzerland's News in English)
Lethal parasite killing dogs in Switzerland
A deadly parasite that attacks the lungs and hearts of dogs is becoming increasingly prevalent in Switzerland, a Zurich researcher has discovered. The infections caused by the parasite were previously considered to be rare, but figures show that the number of cases has increased significantly in the last few year, according to scientist Peter Deplazes from the Institute of Parasitology at the University of Zurich.
Infections are occurring all across the central regions of Switzerland, with the largest number found in the Zurich region and in the north-west of the country.
Figures recorded by the Zurich Animal Hospital have risen from 6 cases in 2009 to 14 cases last year, with similar increases being recorded elsewhere, newspaper Neue Zurcher Zeitung reported on Wednesday [01 Feb 2012].
Transmission of the parasite, known as _Angiostrongylus vasorum_, is occurring because foxes and dogs are eating snails carrying the parasites' larvae. The larvae then pass from the animals' intestines into the blood stream and are carried into the heart and pulmonary arteries, where they develop into adult worms.
These worms then reproduce causing damage and often death to the host. Snails eat infected foxes' faeces, and are then in turn eaten by dogs, thereby perpetuating the cycle.
Peter Deplazes believes that the reason for the increase in cases is in part due to the increasing numbers of foxes, particularly in urban areas. Fox populations have been on the rise since the 1980s following the success of measures taken to tackle rabies.
In addition, the parasite has also become easier to identify because the scientific community has shown a greater interest in it.
ProMED-mail Rapporteur Susan Baekeland
[_Angiostrongylus vasorum_, also known as French heartworm, is a metastrongylid nematode parasite that resides in the pulmonary arteries and right ventricle of dogs and other canids. The presence of the parasite has been reported in Europe (Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and the UK), Africa (Uganda), South America (Brazil and Columbia) and Canada (Newfoundland). It is widely assumed that foxes act as a reservoir of infection for dogs.
Although clinical signs in association with _A vasorum_ infection in dogs can be variable, they typically represent 3 main syndromes: cardiorespiratory signs, coagulopathies and neurological dysfunction.
1. Dogs with cardiorespiratory signs present with a history that may include chronic coughing, exercise intolerance, syncope, dyspnoea and tachypnoea.
2. Coagulopathies can result in anaemia, subcutaneous haematomas, internal haemorrhages and prolonged bleeding from wounds or after surgery.
3. In neurological cases, paresis, depression, seizures, spinal pain, behavioural changes, ataxia and loss of vision have been described as potential results of aberrant nematode migration or subdural haemorrhage.
Several treatment protocols (spot-on and per-os), with satisfactory results, have been published.
Additional data and references in posting 20090907.3147. -Mod.AS]
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