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Nurse parasite clinics and the benefits of routine testing

02 July 2021
13 mins read
Volume 12 · Issue 6
Figure 1. Free living soil nematode.


Cats and dogs are infected with a wide range of parasites, many of which are capable of causing or contributing to disease. Veterinary nurses play a vital role in helping to formulate parasite control plans for pets. Routine diagnostic testing alongside risk-based appropriate preventative treatment is important for efficacy of treatment to be monitored, screening for sub-clinical parasitic infections and drug resistance and to demonstrate that current parasite control recommendations are adequate. A wide range of diagnostic tools are available to veterinary practices and this article considers some of the diagnostic techniques available for routine parasite diagnosis and how they might be used in parasite prevention plans for cats and dogs.

Cats and dogs are exposed to a wide range of parasites, such as Toxocara spp., Echinococcus granulosus, Angiostrongylus vasorum and tick-borne pathogens, which may cause significant disease in pets or present zoonotic risks to owners (Morgan et al, 2005; Overgauuw and Van Knapen 2013; Craig, 2014). Although there are little data on current UK disease incidence from these parasites, the consequences of infection are potentially severe. Some parasites with disease and zoonotic potential are ubiquitous and exposure is practically impossible to avoid. For UK cats and dogs this is true of the roundworm Toxocara and cat fleas. Regular treatment for Toxocara spp. and fleas is essential and should therefore form the basis of all cat and dog parasite control programmes. Other parasite prevention is risk assessed on the basis of lifestyle and geographical distribution. Parasites to consider in the UK would be ticks (Ixodes spp., Dermacentor reticulatus), tapeworm (Dipylidium caninum, Taenia spp., E. granulosus) and lungworm (A. vasorum).

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