A series of new studies have revealed “significant details” on the prevalence, geographical spread and infection pathway of the potentially fatal parasite, Angiostrongylus vasorum.

Bayer is urging vets to help record every confirmed case of lungworm in the UK.

A study of the UK’s fox population by the University of Bristol provides “robust evidence” to support the parasite’s spread across the country.


The study suggests the overall prevalence of A vasorum in UK foxes is 18.3% – significantly higher than a 2008 study that reported a prevalence of 7.3%.

The south-east is reported to have the highest prevalence, with 50% of foxes found to be infected with the parasite (more than double the previous figure). Even in Northern UK (North of England and Scotland) 7.4% of foxes were found to be infected, despite none being found in this region in the earlier study.


A separate study from the University of Glasgow also declared the lungworm parasite to be endemic in Scotland, following an investigation into the parasite’s epidemiology around the location of the first reported case in a dog in Scotland.

The parasite was found in 6.7% of slugs and snails tested in the Glasgow area. The highest prevalence was 11% in a public park in Glasgow where the first confirmed case of A vasorum was reported in 2009. Positive specimens were also found in surrounding parts of this area in which lungworm was expected to be absent.

Snail trail

Additional research from the Atlantic Veterinary College has confirmed the slime trail left behind by slugs could present a threat for the transmission of A vasorum to dogs. It claims that infectious larvae can be released into the mollusc’s slime, providing an alternative route for exposure. The shed infective larvae were shown to survive for at least 15 days on vegetation.

Donna Tomlinson, senior product manager at Bayer Animal Health, said; “This research shows lungworm is a growing threat to dogs in the UK, which is important for both vets and dog owners to know, because it can easily be prevented.

Identifying risk areas

“To further improve the picture that we have of the parasite’s spread, we are asking veterinary professionals across the country to record every confirmed case of lungworm on our interactive prevalence map

“This map will help identify the key lungworm risk areas and so can be used as a warning system by vets and dog owners. Of course, the best advice a vet can give owners is to protect their dog against lungworm with an effective preventative treatment.”

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