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Linguatula serrata infestation in four imported dogs

Authors:
  • IDEXX Laboratories, Ludwigsburg , Germany

Abstract

Tongue worms (Linguatula serrata) or their eggs were found in one dog imported to Austria and three dogs imported to Germany. Three dogs originated from Turkey and one from Italy (Sicily). One dog coughed out an adult pentastomid parasite spontaneously, two other dogs coughed or sneezed them out after treatment with a broad-spectrum dewormer (Drontal Plus® tablets). The dog from Sicily passed three pentastomids in total, the other two dogs passed two worms each. The infestation of the fourth dog was detected by chance upon the identification of Linguatula serrata eggs on the examination of a faecal sample. One dog showed moderate coughing that persisted despite antibiotic treatment the other dogs showed mild respiratory symptoms (sneezing, nasal discharge). Eosinophilia was diagnosed in two dogs, the other two dogs were not blood-tested. Repeated administration of praziquantel, pyrantel embonate and febantel (Drontal Plus® tablets) did not result in the elimination of infection or improvement of the clinical condition in the dog from Sicily. In contrast, injections with ivermectin led to sustained limitation of egg excretion in one dog, and had no undesired side effects.
... They may also become dead-end intermediate hosts through the ingestion of infective eggs (Tappe and Büttner, 2009;John et al., 2013). In central and northern Europe L. serrata is rather rare, however in the last few years an increasing number of cases in imported dogs has been reported (Globokar, 2005;Gjerde, 2013;Villedieu et al., 2017;Springer et al., 2018). However, there is a growing population of reintroduced or invasive species such as grey wolves, golden jackals, or raccoon dogs, known to carry this potentially dangerous parasite (Sutor et al., 2011;Gherman and Mihalca, 2017;Pavlović et al., 2018). ...
... Infections with L. serrata in dogs in central and northern Europe are rare, but detection rates of the parasite have increased within the last years (Globokar, 2005;Gjerde, 2013;Villedieu et al., 2017;Springer et al., 2018). In contrast, in the 19th and beginning 20th century the parasite was well known in Europe, but then somehow forgotten until the early 21st century (Ortlepp, 1934;Enigk and Düwel, 1957;Christofferson and De Assis, 2013). ...
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Linguatula serrata is a worm-like parasite with zoonotic potential that inhabits the nasal cavities of canids. Although most cases of linguatulosis are associated with unspecific and rather mild respiratory symptoms, cases of unusual infestations and severe courses in both animals and humans have been reported. In central and northern Europe, the pathogen used to appear only sporadically, however, within the last few years the number of detections has increased noticeably. In July 2020 an approximately nine-month-old dog, imported from Romania, was presented in a veterinary practice in Gotha, central Germany, due to persistent worsening cough. Despite antibiotic treatment the tussis became more severe until the dog expectorated multiple worm-like structures. Three of these specimens were sent to the Institute of Parasitology (Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Leipzig, Leipzig) for morphological and genetic species identification. The latter was based on a 1000-bp fragment of the mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit I gene (cox1) and the complete nuclear 18S rRNA gene. The dog presented in this study suffered from a severe respiratory impairment caused by worm-like parasites inhabiting its upper respiratory tract. The detected parasites were morphologically identified as female specimens of the so-called tongue-worm L. serrata, which was confirmed by pairwise alignment and phylogenetic analysis of the produced sequences. We report an unusually severe case of L. serrata infection in an imported dog and discuss the spread of this potentially dangerous parasite in central and northern Europe.
... The eggs measure 70-90 µm and may be covered by a thin outer membrane and contain an embryo with two pairs of hooksThe first adult parasites of L. serrata were expelled subsequently to the febantel/praziquantel/pyrantel embonate treatment. Globokar et al.20 found that repeated administration of febantel/praziquantel/pyrantel embonate (Drontal Plus tablets) did not result in the elimination of L. serrata infection or improvement of the clinical signs. ...
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Linguatula serrata, also known as tongue worm, is a zoonotic parasite that lives in the nasal airways of dogs where it is responsible for mild to severe rhinosinusitis. In recent years, the number of pets entering the United Kingdom from abroad has increased, with a coinciding increase in the number of L. serrata infections diagnosed in UK veterinary clinics. Here, we report a case of linguatulosis in a 10‐month‐old, rescued dog imported from Romania. Two weeks post arrival, the dog showed coughing, nasal discharge, epiphora and respiratory distress. Two worm‐like parasites were expelled by sneezing and they were morphologically identified as L. serrata. L. serrata eggs were also detected. A macrocyclic lactone treatment was administered, and clinical signs resolved. L. serrata should be included in the differential diagnosis of respiratory disease in imported dogs. Due to the zoonotic potential of this parasite, rapid diagnosis and correct treatment is essential.
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