Atlas of livestock parasites
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Angiostrongylus vasorum (dogs)



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Nematode (order Strongylida)    

"French heartworm"          

Distribution: Canada (Newfoundland), Europe, South America, Africa. 

Host: Pulmonary arteries, right ventricle of dogs and foxes             

Life Cycle: First-stage larvae are passed in canine feces (using the Baermann method, or microscopic detection of larvae in bronchial lavage material) and slugs, snails, and frogs act as intermediate hosts of the parasite. Frogs also serve as paratenic hosts. Dogs and foxes are infected when they ingest intermediate hosts or paratenic hosts.   Pre-patent period 40-49 days, patent period up to 5 years.             

Diagnosis: First-stage larvae in fresh feces are detected using the Baermann technique (most reliable) or fecal fotation. The larvae have a cephalic button on the anterior end, and there is a severe kink (S-shaped curve) in the tail, which has a dorsal spine.  A commercial serological test to detect circulating A. vasorum is now available.  

Size: 340–399 × 13–17 µm    

Clinical features: The parasite is a serious pathogen of dogs, causing potentially fatal cardio-pulmonary disease. Ocular and central nervous system disease and bleeding disorders have also been reported.  After an asymptomatic period, respiratory signs such as cough, tachypnoea and dyspnoea are most obvious.  Occasionally signs of coagulopathy (e.g. subcutaneous haematomas anaemia) and neurological signs are observed.  Sudden death can occur even in the absence of respiratory signs.



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