Articles

Parasites

  • Lung flukes in North America are parasites called Paragonimus kellicotti that infect the lungs of cats after they have eaten an infected crayfish or rodents that have eaten infected crayfish. Eggs are then released by the parasite into the cat’s sputum to be coughed out or swallowed and released in the feces to continue the life cycle. Lung flukes can be found anywhere in North America but more commonly around the Mississippi River and Great Lakes. Infected cats can be symptom-free or may develop cough with sometimes bloody mucus, pneumonia, pneumothorax, lethargy and weakness. Diagnosis can include locating eggs of the parasite from feces or mucus from the lungs. X-rays can also reveal cysts in the lungs caused by the parasite. Treatment requires one of 2 commonly used anti-parasitic medications: Praziquantel or Fenbendazole. Although zoonotic, these parasites won’t transmit directly from cats to humans.

  • Lung flukes in North America are parasites called Paragonimus kellicotti that infect the lungs of dogs after they have eaten an infected crayfish or rodents that have eaten infected crayfish. Eggs are then released by the parasite into the dog’s sputum to be coughed out or swallowed and released in the feces to continue the life cycle. Lung flukes can be found anywhere in North America but more commonly around the Mississippi River and Great Lakes. Infected dogs can be symptom-free or may develop cough with sometimes bloody mucus, pneumonia, pneumothorax, lethargy and weakness. Diagnosis can include locating eggs of the parasite from feces or mucus from the lungs. X-rays can also reveal cysts in the lungs caused by the parasite. Treatment requires one of 2 commonly used anti-parasitic medications: Praziquantel or Fenbendazole. Although zoonotic, these parasites won’t transmit directly from dogs to humans.

  • There are many species of lungworm that can cause respiratory problems in dogs. Infection is acquired through either: ingestion of an intermediate host such as snails or slugs, ingestion of animals that have been infected by eating these animals or depending on the species, from an infected dog by contact with saliva, nasal discharge, or contaminated food and water bowls. Lungworms can be found throughout North America and the world with certain species seen in certain areas. Clincal signs can range from asymptomatic to tachypnea, coughing, sneezing, wheezing, respiratory distress or exercise intolerance. The degree of clinical signs is usually proportional to the strength of the dog’s immune system. Diagnosis involves history, physical exam, x-rays and organism identification through either baermann fecal examination or BAL/bronchoscopy. Treatment involves use of specific antiparasitic drugs for various lengths of time depending on type and severity of infection. Prognosis is good but re-infection can occur.

  • The two common guinea pig fur mites are Trixacarus caviae (sarcoptic mange mite) and Chirodiscoides caviae. Chirodiscoides caviae mites may cause mild to no clinical signs at all. Trixacarus caviae mites can cause extreme clinical signs because they cause extreme itchiness. Affected skin will get thick, yellowish, and crusty, with hair loss and secondary bacterial skin infection. These mites cause such itchiness that your guinea pig may even go into seizures and die. Your veterinarian will treat the affected animal with topical or injectable anti-parasitic medications, and since mites live in the environment, the environment must be treated, as well. Trixacarus caviae mites are contagious to people.

  • Parasites are not commonly diagnosed in pet birds; however, when present they can cause generalized debilitation in birds. With external parasites, your veterinarian can often make a diagnosis based on the results of a physical examination and a microscopic analysis of the skin lesions. Intestinal parasites are usually discovered when the feces are examined microscopically. Blood parasites are typically found during a routine blood count. External parasites are often treated with specific topical or oral antiparasitic medications. Internal parasites can be treated with a variety of oral or injectable medications.

  • The common rabbit pinworm, Passalurus ambiguous, is an intestinal parasite. It does not cause a serious health threat to rabbits, but it can cause uncomfortable itching and skin inflammation or redness around the anus. Rabbits become infected with pinworms by eating feces that contain pinworm eggs. Pinworms are challenging to treat because rabbits are coprophagic, so they frequently reinfect themselves during treatment. Treatment includes administration of anti-parasitic drugs, as well as diligent cleaning and elimination of all feces in and around your rabbit's cage and in other areas where she plays, sleeps, and roams.

  • Common conditions of pet prairie dogs include obesity, dental disease, respiratory disease, heart disease, and parasites. Prairie dogs can also be afflicted with cancer and ringworm.

  • Pythiosis is a waterborne infection that can infect the GI tract or skin of dogs. It can cause extreme weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea or skin lesions such as ulcerating nodules and draining tracts. This disease is more common in southern regions. Treatment involves surgical removal of all affected material if possible, including limb amputation if indicated. Different antifungal therapies have shown some efficacy and need to be continued long-term. Prognosis for resolution of pythiosis is guarded to poor.

  • During the summer months, pet rabbits allowed to run outdoors might be affected by a fly maggot infestation. Different terms are used for this but fly strike is a common one. Another is to say that the rabbit is fly blown.

  • Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is spread by various species of ticks and is not confined just to the Rocky Mountain regions of North America. Clinical signs can be non-specific and cover multiple body systems. Early diagnosis and treatment gives the best prognosis for recovery after treatment with antibiotics. Prevention of tick bites and prompt removal of ticks is important.

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