The true extent of lungworm presence in the country has been brought into focus by the work of a vet practice in Essex.

microscope
Vet Glenn Bengtson looked for the presence of larvae under a microscope. © iStock/The-Tor

Forest Veterinary Centre in Epping tested the endotracheal tubes of 100 clinically healthy dogs that underwent general anaesthetic for procedures as part of an in-house clinical audit and, incidentally, found larvae of the potentially fatal parasite Angiostrongylus vasorum in four dogs.

None of the dogs had shown any clinical signs prior to the procedures.

Levels of infection

Vet Glenn Bengtson orchestrated the audit over a two-month period, which involved testing the tracheal secretions deposited on the endotracheal tubes and looking for the presence of larvae under a microscope.

With a 4% incidence in a fairly insensitive test, the true incidence may be even higher.

Practice manager Deborah White said: “We know lungworm is in the area and wanted to gain a better idea of the levels of infection coming through our practice. However, we didn’t expect to find this level of larvae in the dogs tested.

“Our vets routinely test for lungworm and ongoing monthly prevention is always recommended for our clients. These findings serve as confirmation we are giving the best advice to keep dogs in our region protected against this parasite.”

Marked increase

Lungworm is well-established in the region, with Forest Vets reporting a marked increase in confirmed cases over the past five years.

Bayer’s Lungworm Map, which documents cases of lungworm across the country, reports more than 1,000 cases within a 50-mile radius of the practice.

“Be lungworm aware” vet campaign materials are available for practices to display in waiting rooms, as well as leaflets to assist vets in communicating to owners the importance of protecting their dog against lungworm.

These can be ordered via www.vetcentre.bayer.co.uk

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