One of the UK’s leading parasitologists believes cats could be the “missing piece in the jigsaw” when it comes to controlling Toxocara.

Toxocara species adults. Image taken from "Controversies and practicalities of human toxocarosis control".
Toxocara species adults. Image from the article “Controversies and practicalities of human toxocarosis control” by Ian Wright.

Vet Ian Wright is the lead author of a study exploring the prevalence of clinically relevant intestinal nematodes in cats and dogs, using the sensitive faecal analysis technique FLOTAC.

The results regarding dogs were as expected, but researchers were surprised to find Toxocara parasites in 26% of cats – a higher prevalence than previously thought.

Limited research

Only limited research on the prevalence of Toxocara and related worms has been conducted in the UK to date and Dr Wright wanted to discover how common it was and how many cats and dogs were at risk.

“What was surprising, and what’s been overlooked, was the fact cats are shedding high numbers of Toxocara eggs, too,“ he said.

“I suspect cats are a big missing piece in the jigsaw of Toxocara control. The focus to date has been very much on dogs, which is important, but we perhaps need to turn our attention more to cats.”

Details of study

Faecal samples were collected from 171 domestic dogs (90 male and 81 female) and 131 domestic cats (63 male and 68 female) from urban areas of Lancashire.

Toxocara was present in 5.3% of dogs, as predicted. Another surprise was the discovery of a worm called Spirocerca lupi, which is not thought to be endemic in the UK. S lupi is not dangerous to people, but can cause oesophageal tumours and spinal problems in dogs.

The worms were only found in low numbers and did not appear to be causing pets any problems. However, researchers say the discovery warrants further investigation and an increased awareness of the clinical signs S lupi can cause.

  • More details about the study can be found in the 3 October issue of Veterinary Times.
View your activity >

Leave a Reply

1 Comment on "Cats may be ‘missing piece’ to Toxocara puzzle"

Notify of
avatar

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
dhameer
Guest
1 month 3 days ago

Guys just a quick comment. I had a German Shepherd Dog who died because of spirocerca lupi. I live in South Africa where these worms are highly prevalent. I had my dog dewormed and inoculated every year. Even dewormed every 3 months but sometimes the damage caused by the worm is just too great. Normal dewormers DON’T work.

wpDiscuz

related content

Three leading veterinary schools have strongly defended the ethical importation of dead dogs from the US to provide UK students with essential dissection practice.

6 mins

Veterinary rehabilitation professionals can enhance their knowledge of treating and preventing injuries in agility, working and recreational dogs at a one-day symposium.

3 mins

Zoetis' Trocoxil chewable tablets are back in stock following a "supply shortage", says the company.

2 mins

Millions of dogs could enjoy longer, healthier lives if vets were to change their approach to the treatment of osteoarthritis, according to an orthopaedic specialist.

4 mins

Louise O'Dwyer takes a look at the relationship between pre-surgery fasting and anaesthesia in December's Nursing Notes.

8 mins

CVO Nigel Gibbens orders all poultry in England to be kept indoors for 30 days following confirmation of a highly infectious strain of avian flu in Europe.

6 mins