THE LUNGWORM IN CATS: THE HUNTER HUNTED

How fearless and brave cats are! Rag mice, small balls, feathered rattles, very simple toys with which our pet has a great time and “learn to hunt”. A diversion that can put you in danger if you practice it outside and change the toys for small animals that carry parasites.

The most well-known and present lungworm in the world, including countries in Europe, is Aelurostrongylus abstrusus, a roundworm (nematode) parasitic in cats that are the definitive hosts. In some countries it has been found that up to 6% of the cat population investigated was infected by this parasite and suffered from the disease known as aelurostongilosis. However, there is no need to fear human contagion, as there is no evidence of this and they are considered to be specific to cats.

The lungworm has the typical roundworm shape, elongated in the shape of a cylinder, reaching a length of up to 10 millimeters, and dark brown in color. It has an indirect life cycle, traveling from the intermediate hosts of the larvae (snails and slugs) to the transport hosts (frogs, rodents, squirrels or birds that have ingested terrestrial mollusks), and these are the ones that are finally ingested by our pet.

The larvae ingested with the contaminated prey reach the intestine, where they pass through the stomach walls to reach the blood supply. Through it, they reach the lungs in just over 24 hours, and they stay there to complete their development into adults in about 4 weeks and begin to deposit new eggs that will generate the first larvae. The lung worm’s favorite organs are the terminal bronchioles and the alveolar ducts. By coughing or sneezing, the incipient larvae reach the mouth and are ingested by the cat, which then expels them together with the feces outside. These larvae may remain active outdoors – up to 6 months in humid environments – waiting to be ingested by a carrier and start the infection cycle.

Lung worm infections are often asymptomatic and can be cured spontaneously. Only in cases of massive infections or in puppy cats, the symptoms can be more severe and produce mild to very serious signs, including the following:

  • Productive cough with a runny nose and sneezing
  • Lacrimation
  • Respiratory insufficiency
  • Pulmonary hypertension similar to asthma
  • Compatibility with bacterial infections
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Passivity and lethargic state

What is the best prevention?

To prevent lungworm parasitoids, it is very necessary to take hygienic precautions and prevent pets from ingesting strange prey that could be contaminated, although this may be difficult to achieve. In addition, it is very important to maintain a proper hygienic habit, regularly disinfecting the spaces shared by cats and daily removing the excrement and remains of other dead animals. This is especially recommended in breeders or if you have more than one pet at home.

In addition, it is convenient to act on the animal by going to our trusted veterinarian to ask him to make us an adequate preventive plan that includes a Double Monthly Protection against internal and external parasites.