Dirofilariasis is a parasitic disease of carnivorous animals, which is caused by a worm cardiac nematode of the genus Dirofilaria. There is pulmonary (heart) dirofilariasis and subcutaneous.
The body of the causative agent of the disease - dirofilaria is similar to a thread and in length reaches 25-30 cm. They parasitize in the cavity of the pulmonary artery in the right ventricle of the heart. Rarely dirofilaria are found in unusual places: the brain, eyes, subcutaneous tissues, the abdominal cavity and the spinal cord.
Infection of dogs occurs with the help of mosquitoes, which transfer invasive larvae into the blood of an animal. The larvae develop within three months in the connective and subcutaneous adipose tissue. Two months later, they begin to actively migrate through the subcutaneous tissue, gradually growing up.
Dirofilaria live in the host for up to two years. During the day, one female gives birth to thirty thousand larvae.
Symptoms of dirofilariasis in dogs
The clinical symptoms of dirofilariasis depend on how long the worms have settled in the body and affect the heart and lungs.
- In heat, dirofilariasis in dogs is manifested by dermatitis (itching, reddening of the skin, sores, hair loss). In winter, symptoms subside.
- Some animals are diagnosed with swelling of skin the size of a chicken egg in the area of the mammary glands, facial skull, and extremities. When the swelling is cut, purulent exudate or clear liquid is secreted. In the cavity of the swelling can already be found several parasites.
- The dog loses weight rapidly, experiences weakness and fatigue, sleeps a lot. She has chronic dyspnea, dry cough, cyanosis of the skin, wheezing in the lungs. When coughing, sputum with blood may be observed.
- Later develop abdominal and chest dropsy, disrupted not only the activity of the lungs and heart, but also the kidneys and nervous system.
- In dirofilariasis, the subcutaneous tissue is often asymptomatic. Skin lesions on the paws and in the head area, as well as nerve phenomena can sometimes be observed.
A clear medication for dirofilariasis has not yet been found. Such drugs as mebendazole, levamisole, dithiazanine are more commonly used. However, they are insufficiently microfilaricidal, that is, remission of the disease is possible.
In the most severe cases, worms are removed through the incision surgically. However, their removal is not possible if the helminths are located in complex anatomical areas: eyes, etc.
Due to the severity of the disease, prevention is very important. It includes preventing contact with blood-sucking insects. For this summer you need to use insectoacaricidal collar and drops.