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Parasites and Pets: A Veterinary Nursing Guide

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This book, primarily focussing on parasitic diseases of cats and dogs, is designed specifically for veterinary nurses and students and adopts an enquiry based approach essential for consolidating knowledge and a deep practical understanding of this important subject. The book goes beyond the conventional discourse of parasitology books, with each chapter addressing questions commonly posed by clients. It is illustrated throughout with colour figures and readers can assess their knowledge and areas for development by completing the end of chapter self-assessment questions. In this way, the veterinary nurse will be fully equipped to professionally support veterinary surgeons in achieving optimal strategies for management of parasitic diseases of companion animals. Provides a unique enquiry-based approach to assist veterinary nurses and technicians in gaining essential knowledge and practical understanding of parasites. Contains self-assessment MCQ sections designed to encourage the reader to question their practice, rationales, and the evidence base of parasitology care delivery they provide to patients. Focuses on the dog and cat, the most commonly seen pets.

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11 Chapters

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1 Introduction to Parasitology

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1

Introduction to

Parasitology

What is parasitology?

Parasitology is the scientific discipline concerning the study of the biology of parasites and parasitic diseases. By understanding parasites, their behaviour and life cycles, it becomes possible to develop strategies to treat and control parasitic disease.

What is a parasite?

A parasite is an organism that is metabolically and physiologically dependent on another organism (the host). The parasite exploits the host for its development and survival during one or more stages of its life cycle. Some parasites are single-celled

(e.g. protozoa) whereas others are multicellular (e.g. worms, arthropods). In many cases, two (or more) parasites can occur in the same host and this phenomenon is known as poly- or hyper-parasitism and the host is said to be co-infected.

How does a parasite get its name?

Scientific nomenclature assigns each parasite two names; the genus name is the first name and the first letter is always capitalized, followed by species name (e.g. Ixodes ricinus) (Fig. 1.1). By convention, both names are italicized. Normally, after a scientific name has been mentioned once, it is abbreviated with the initial of the genus followed by the species name.

 

2 Parasites of the Gastrointestinal System

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2

Parasites of the

Gastrointestinal

System

Ascariasis of Dogs and Cats

What is ascariasis of cats and dogs?

Ascarid infections of dogs and cats are cosmopolitan. Adult worms live in the small intestine of dogs (Toxocara canis (Fig. 2.1a) and Toxascaris leonina) or cats (Toxocara cati (Fig. 2.1b) and Toxascaris leonina). Fertilized females produce eggs that become infective in the environment after being passed in faeces. Infections are well tolerated in cats and dogs but can lead to ill thrift and respiratory signs in heavily infected individuals, typically puppies and kittens. Pathology associated with ascarid infections in dogs and cats involves inflammatory and pathological alterations in the intestinal mucosa (caused by adults) and hepatopulmonary tissues (caused by migrating larvae).

What happens after a dog ingests T. canis eggs?

After a dog eats viable, embryonated eggs (Fig. 2.2) from the environment, the eggs hatch and escaped larvae enter the wall of the small intestine. The larvae migrate through the circulatory system and go to either the respiratory system or other organs/tissues in the body. If they enter body tissues, they encyst, especially in older dogs and pregnant bitches. In very young puppies, larvae move from the circulation to the respiratory system, are coughed up and swallowed and mature into adult worms in the small intestine. These adult worms lay eggs, which pass out of the animal in the faeces

 

3 Parasites of the Respiratory System

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3

Parasites of the

Respiratory System

Angiostrongylosis (Angiostrongylus vasorum)

What is canine angiostrongylosis?

This parasitic worm infects dogs and the infective L3 larvae are carried by slugs and snails. Referring to Angiostrongylus vasorum as a lungworm is something of a misnomer. Although the larval and egg stages of the parasite do affect the lungs and coughing associated with bronchitis is the most common presenting sign, the adult worms actually live in the heart and pulmonary artery. A. vasorum is also known as the French heartworm but the term heartworm should really be for Dirofilaria immitis, covered in the next chapter.

Infections in dogs may be subclinical or lead to clinical pathology and signs

(angiostrongylosis) including bronchitis, clotting defects, neurological deficits associated with blood clots and aberrant larval migration and heart disease. Secondary coagulopathies (disseminated intravascular coagulation, immune-mediated thrombocytopenia) can result in subcutaneous haematomas or occasionally in fatal cerebral, spinal or abdominal haemorrhage.

 

4 Parasites of the Cardiovascular System

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4

Parasites of the

Cardiovascular System

Babesiosis

What is babesiosis?

Babesiosis is a blood protozoal disease caused by tick-transmitted intra-erythrocytic protozoa of the genus Babesia. These protozoan organisms live inside the red blood cells of animals.

How many Babesia species infect dogs?

A number of Babesia spp., including Babesia canis, B. gibsoni, B. vogelii and

B. vulpes, are known to infect dogs in Europe. The two Babesia species most commonly infecting dogs are the large piroplasm (B. canis) and the small piroplasm (B. gibsoni). The former usually occur in pairs and appear pearshaped, while the latter are smaller and circular.

What is known about the epidemiology of Babesia infection in the UK?

Even though babesiosis has been reported in an untravelled British dog, babesiosis has been considered an exotic disease and only identified in dogs returning from travel to Europe. However, in 2016 babesiosis due to B. canis was confirmed in four dogs from Essex with no history of foreign travel and

 

5 Parasites of the Skin and Muscles

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5

Parasites of the Skin and Muscles

Flea Infestations

What are fleas and how do they thrive?

Fleas are obligate blood-sucking insects, which have evolved to live in close proximity to their hosts and the host habitat. In the case of cat fleas and to some extent dog fleas, this adaptation causes severe domestic household infestations. Adult fleas seen on pets are glossy brown/black in colour, flattened from side to side, and are equipped with very powerful back legs for jumping. They have a set of combs at the junction of the head and thorax

(pronotal ctenidia) and another set near the mouthparts (genal ctenidia). This morphology varies in different species (rabbit fleas, rodent and bird fleas, for example, which may occasionally be found on cats and dogs) and flea species identification can be important in control programmes advised for flea-infested households. Cat and dog fleas may cause intense itching and induce allergic reactions in susceptible animals and they also bite pet owners.

 

6 Parasites of the Eye and Nervous System

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6

Parasites of the Eye and Nervous System

Thelaziosis

What is thelaziosis?

Thelaziosis, also known as eye worm infection, is caused by nematodes of the genus Thelazia, which are transmitted by flies into the orbital cavities and surrounding tissues of many species of wild and domestic mammals.

Out of 16 species of Thelazia described so far, T. rhodesii infects sheep;

T. skrjabini infects cattle; T. californiensis and T. callipaeda infect carnivores, including dogs, cats, foxes and wolves, and also rabbits. The disease is mainly seen in summer and autumn when the vector flies are active. It has been suggested that more than one species of Diptera is involved in its transmission; for example, the facefly, Musca autumnalis, transmits the worm to cattle, and Phortica variegata (Drosophilidae family) is a proven vector of the nematode in dogs and wild carnivores.

How are eye worms transmitted?

Adult worms live in the eyes under the nictitating membrane. The females release first-stage larvae (L1). When other flies feed on lachrymal secretions, they pick up the L1s which then go through two moults inside the fly, eventually to the third-stage infective larvae (L3). When the fly feeds again, the

 

7 Parasites of the Urogenital System

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7

Parasites of the

­Urogenital System

Capillariasis

What are the Capillarid species in dogs and cats?

Capillarid worms that have a veterinary significance are Capillaria aerophila = Eucoleus aerophilus (lung), C. hepatica (liver) and C. plica

(kidney). Capillaria spp. have a worldwide distribution.

What is C. plica and what problems does it cause?

C. plica is a parasite that resides in the urinary bladder, ureters or, rarely, in the kidney pelvis of various wild carnivores. Fox populations act as a major wildlife reservoir of infection. As a result, dogs living in areas with high densities of foxes, or frequenting environments visited by foxes, may be at greater risk of infection as the number of infected intermediate hosts subsequently increases. The life cycle of this parasite is indirect and involves an earthworm as intermediate host; transmission occurs following the ingestion of an infected earthworm containing first-stage larvae. After two moults and a short dwelling period in the intestine, third-stage larvae reach the bladder, where they moult to adults and embed themselves deep into bladder mucosa (occasionally ureters and kidney pelvis).

 

8 Key Skills for the Veterinary Nurse in Diagnostic Parasitology

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8

Key Skills for the

Veterinary Nurse in

Diagnostic Parasitology

This chapter will firstly explain some simple diagnostic tests, which may be carried out for parasites in practice and include faecal analysis, staining blood smears and examinations for skin ectoparasites, all of which may be carried out without the need for specialist equipment. More complex techniques – serological methods such enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay

(ELISA), immunofluoresence antibody tests (IFAT) and polymerase chain reaction (PCR), for example, are normally referred to external laboratories as they require technical expertise, expensive reagents and equipment. Some important tests for vector-borne pathogens are summarized here, particularly those relating to pets travelling on the European continent, and tests for emergent infections such as lungworms of dogs and cats are described.

Faecal Analysis

How are samples best acquired and stored?

Faecal sample collection, storage and transportation are all important considerations. Only fresh samples should be examined, and tests done as soon as possible. This is because worm eggs will start to develop quickly at room temperature; and if the sample is left for a day or two, a larva may develop inside the egg. This will happen with hookworm eggs, for example, and in some cases the larvae can even hatch out. This is something the veterinary nurse must be aware of since larvated eggs like this may be confused with eggs of Strongyloides (a nematode of young animals) which already contain a larva when passed by the host (Fig. 8.1a). Furthermore, samples for submission should not be allowed to come into contact with the ground, and with soil in particular, as environmental free-living larvae, notably those of ascarids, quickly invade faeces, thus complicating diagnosis. The samples

 

9 Parasite Control Clinics

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9

Parasite Control

Clinics

What is the role of veterinary nurses in parasite control clinics?

Veterinary nurses play a vital role in the education of clients on parasite control. Many clients feel more comfortable discussing parasite prevention with a nurse as they are often perceived to be more approachable and available to the client for longer periods of time. Opportunities to discuss parasite control may occur in dedicated parasite clinics, at reception or in telephone conversations. Through these varieties of medium, nurses can form bonds with clients and, by gathering information about their lifestyles, can assess parasite risk and maximize preventive treatment compliance. As well as recording information, assessing risk and giving advice, nurses may also perform parasite diagnostic tests, such as coat tape strippings, flea combing, skin scrapes, urinalysis, blood smear examination, serology and faecal flotation.

Whether a practice has one dedicated parasite nurse or several will depend on the size of the practice and nurse availability. If multiple nurses are involved, it is vital that advice and protocols are consistent and that parasite knowledge is kept up to date.

 

10 Parasite Control and Pet Travel

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10

Parasite Control and Pet Travel

How do pet travel and importation affect parasite distributions?

Pet travel and pet importation are increasing in most European countries and North America year on year. The UK, for example, saw an increase in travelling dogs from 140,000 in 2012 to 164,800 in 2015. Similarly, the numbers of dogs being imported into the UK for commercial purposes increased from 26,399 in 2014 to 28,344 in 2015. This increase in pet travel has occurred at a time of increased human migration and climate change, providing favourable conditions for the rapid spread of parasitic diseases and their vectors. This, in turn, increases the risk of pets and their owners encountering exotic agents while abroad and bringing them back to their country of residence. Imported animals may also be carrying non-native pathogens and vectors. These factors can increase the risk of introduction of parasites in a number of different ways. Veterinary nurses must therefore be aware of exotic parasites being present in imported and travelled pets.

 

Self-assessment Answers

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Self-assessment Answers

Chapter 1

1. (b)

2. (a)

3. (a)

4. (d)

5. (d)

Chapter 2

1. (a)

2. (d)

3. (a)

4. (b)

5. (a)

Chapter 3

1. (b)

2. (a)

3. (d)

4. (a)

5. (c)

© CAB International 2018. Parasites and Pets (Elsheikha, Wright & McGarry)�

147

Self-assessment Answers

Chapter 4

1. (d)

2. (b)

3. (d)

4. (c)

5. (c)

Chapter 5

Fleas

1. (c)

2. (a)

3. (b)

4. (d)

5. (b)

Lice

1. (b)

2. (d)

3. (c)

4. (d)

5. (a)

Mites

1. (a)

2. (d)

3. (c)

4. (b)

5. (d)

Ticks

1. (d)

2. (a)

148

Self-assessment Answers

3. (b)

4. (a)

5. (d)

Leishmaniosis

1. (c)

2. (d)

3. (b)

4. (a)

5. (c)

Chapter 6

1. (a)

2. (d)

 

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