Lungoworm is also known as "French heartworm" and by its latin name "Angiostrongylus vasorum" and is a potentially serious and life threatening parasite in dogs and foxes, and is carried by slugs and snails. It can cause very serious disease, leading to death. Until recently there were no licensed products in the UK to treat or prevent this worm. Thankfully, there are now products that claim to treat this parasite, and they may offer protection before the disease strikes.
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Animals who fall ill due to lungworm are not all known slug or snail eaters. It seems likely that there are other routes to infection, such as eating grass or drinking contaminated water.
Included below is a real case of this disease seen in this practice. Is your dog protected? Contact us to find out what you can do about this serious problem. Please note, most wormers do not protect against lungworm.
A Clinical Case of lungworm Causing Pulmonary Haemorrhage
'Sally' is a young cross-breed dog who presented to the practice with difficulty breathing and coughing up blood. She was clearly very ill and required emergency treatment with intravenous fluids and oxygen. An x-ray was taken of her chest. This seemed to show bleeding throughout the lung tissue.
A provisional diagnosis was made of a blood clotting disorder associated with a parasitic infestation of lungworm.
This is a roundworm infection dogs can pick up from eating slugs and snails, and is commonly found in certain areas of Wales, Devon and Cornwall, but it is recognised in other parts of the UK. The condition is not very well understood at this time. It causes blood clotting problems, and can affect the lungs, eyes and nervous system. Treatment for this condition began immediately.
A range of samples were sent to the laboratory. 'Sally' improved steadily over the next few days, and was discharged whilst we awaited the lab results. The tests showed marked anaemia, with many changes to the blood clotting profile. They also confirmed lungworm infestation.
Thankfully 'Sally' recovered rapidly and was soon her old self. Further testing one month later was negative for the offending worm, and showed that her blood count had returned to normal. There have been no further bleeding episodes since.
Lungworm is a condition that we may expect to see more frequently if our climate continues to become warmer, and must be a consideration when picking flea and worm prevention products if you live an area known to be a hot spot such as south west Wales.