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Canine angiostrongylosis: an increasing concern

02 October 2017
8 mins read
Volume 8 · Issue 8


Canine angiostrongylosis is a snail-borne parasitic infection caused by the nematode Angiostrongylus vasorum. This metastrongyloid nematode poses a significant threat to canine populations. It is capable of infecting wild and domestic canines as their definitive host, using gastropods as intermediate hosts. Recent data strongly suggest an increased geographic expansion of this parasite in wildlife animals that can serve as a reservoir. Once localised to the southern UK, A. vasorum now represents a tangible threat to dogs throughout the country, presenting asymptomatically or causing a wide range of clinical signs including dyspnoea and haemorrhage. Veterinary professionals have a range of efficacious anthelmintics that, when used correctly, can significantly reduce mortality, clinical illness and associated health complications. Effective control of this disease, however, entails more understanding of the role of wildlife in spreading A. vasorum. Combined with this is the need for an appropriate framework for engaging and educating pet owners, improved management of adverse health effects of infection in dogs, guidelines on precautions to be adopted in order to minimise risk of infection, and the rational use of preventatives to control this disease. This review focuses on current knowledge about A. vasorum — which affects the respiratory system of dogs — and covers diagnostics, treatment and a brief account of other species of canine lungworms.

Canine angiostrongylosis is one of the most important vector-borne parasitic diseases in dogs and is caused by the cardiorespiratory nematode Angiostrongylus vasorum (superfamily: Metastrongyloidea). Dogs become infected after ingesting the third larval stage (L3), usually within an intermediate gastropod host or a paratenic host, such as the common frog (Rana temporaria) or chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus) (Bolt et al, 1993; Mozzer and Lima, 2015). Infected snails, of the species Biomphalaria glabrata, shed L3 into the environment, creating a free-living reservoir of infection (Barçante et al, 2003). Rising numbers of confirmed cases of angiostrongylosis have thrown A. vasorum under the global spotlight, driving research into its epidemiology, diagnosis and risk factors. It is well-established that A. vasorum has spread from its original southern hotspots and can now be found throughout mainland UK, with cases reported as far north as Scotland (Helm et al, 2009). However, this parasite's territory has expanded faster than our knowledge of its epidemiology and control. Therefore, the present review provides the following:

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