Posts Tagged ‘zoonotic parasites’

We’ve seen a spate of Hookworm cases lately, which afforded me the opportunity to capture the following photos of actual worms, rather than just eggs.
A pup was brought in to see us after vomiting the worms, which is pretty unusual. But what I caught on (digital) film proves the nature of these nasties. Check it out.
(Note: all photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.)

Hookworm eggs in vomitus.

Hookworm eggs in vomitus.

Hookworms A and B on a microscope slide.

Hookworms A and B on a microscope slide.

Hookworm "A" under magnification.

Hookworm A under magnification.

Section of Hookworm A under magnification.

Section of Hookworm A under magnification.

Hookworm A, with a bubble in its mouth, shows off its hooks. They latch onto your pet's intestinal walls.

Hookworm A, with a bubble in its mouth, shows off its hooks. They latch onto your pet’s intestinal walls.

Detail of the guts of Hookworm B.

Detail of the guts of Hookworm B.

Check out the fangs on this guy! Hookworm B looks ready for lunch.

Check out the fangs on this guy! Hookworm B looks ready for lunch.

Tech note: The appearance of the hooks identifies these worms as Ancylostoma caninum.

To learn about Hookworm infection in people, click here.

To learn more about Hookworm in pets, click here.

All photos by Jennifer Miele, at Little Creek Veterinary Clinic.

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     Many puppies will enter their new homes with extra baggage:  intestinal worms.  Roundworms and Hookworms are not only dangerous for your pets, they can also harm people.

     All new pets, whether young or old, should be examined for intestinal parasites and treated as necessary.  Some pets, especially pups and kittens, may need two or three rounds of medication to rid the body of all worms.

     Protect your family from Roundworms and Hookworms by promptly cleaning up your pet’s feces in the house and in the yard.  Follow these “rules” when housebreaking your pet:

  • Designate one small area of the yard as your pet’s potty spot. 
  • Choose an area that is off-limits for gardening and playing.
  • Do not let the puppy dig, eat grass, or play in the potty spot.
  • Do not walk barefoot in or around the bathroom area.
  • Clean up all feces promptly.  Do not let waste stay in the yard just because it is in the bathroom spot (think of it as akin to flushing the toilet.)
  • Wash your hands thoroughly after cleaning the potty spot and after any time spent working in the yard.
  • Teach children to wash their hands after playing with the dog or cat.
  • Teach children to avoid putting their hands near their mouth, eyes, or nose when playing with the pet.
  • Do not allow cats or dogs to soil in children’s sandboxes.

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     If you’ve been following along with our Under the ‘Scope series, you know I’ve blogged about Tapeworms, Hookworms, and Roundworms.  (If you haven’t read those posts, click on the links and read them now.) 
     I mentioned in the last post that I’ve been hoping to show you photos of Coccidiae and Whipworms, as well.  As it turns out, we’ve had a recent spate of dogs, both young and old, battling Coccidiae.  This is what we’ve seen under the microscope:

This is what we see at "medium" magnification. Photo by Jennifer Miele.

     Not too helpful, is it?  Coccidiae (that’s the plural of “coccidia”) are among the tiniest parasites we search for in your pet’s fecal sample.  Now look at this photo with some of the coccidia oocysts (spores) labeled for identification:

Click to enlarge and read the labels. Photo by Jennifer Miele.

     Now look at the oocysts under higher magnification:

Two highly magnified coccidia spores. Photo by Jennifer Miele.

     Now look at the coccidia as seen under an electron microscope:

     If you’re thinking that looks an awful lot like a jellyfish at the Virginia Aquarium, you’re right.  I have no idea how that snuck in there.  My apologies to everyone who reads this blog.  Anyway, now you know where I spent my Sunday. 

     Okay, let’s try this again.  Coccidia spore under super-intense hyper-fraznik electron microscope:

EEEEEEEEK! Photo by Jennifer Miele

     All right, all right, I’m messing with you.  Little tiny coccidia spores do not grow up to become sharks.  That’s the good news.  The bad news is, if your cat or dog is infected with these protozoan parasites, it may suffer chronic or intermittent diarrhea.  Left untreated, the infection may progress to the point that your pet has bloody stools, vomiting, and loss of appetite.  In rare cases, death may occur.

     Treatment for coccidiosis (the disease cause by the coccidia infection) is effective and uncomplicated, provided the illness has not progressed to a serious level.

     Coccidia species tend to stick to dogs and cats as their hosts.  A notable exception is Toxoplasma gondii, which causes toxoplasmosis in humans.  Many women are familiar with this disease, as it is to be avoided at all costs during pregnancy. 
     Toxoplasmosis can be contracted by handling cat fecal matter or contaminated litter.  For this reason, a pregnant woman should ask someone else to clean the cat’s litterbox, or she should wear thick gloves and wash well after the task is completed.

     There is no preventative product on the market for coccidiosis.  Your pet should remain on its heartworm/intestinal worm preventative year-round, even though it will not protect against protozoan parasites. 
     Be vigilant in noticing whether your pet’s bathroom habits have changed.  If you suspect a parasite infection, notify our clinic so that we may examine a specimen under the microscope.  Who knows?  Your pet’s parasites could be the next ones featured on Under the ‘Scope!  ~~  Jen

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