What is Spirometra?
Spirometra is a type of tapeworm that affects both cats and dogs in our are of Bundaberg, Queensland. The biggest problem is that this tapeworm is NOT killed by the normal tablets that pet owners would normally buy when they ‘worm’ their pet.
This tapeworm is normally found as an adult in carnivorous animals such as cats and dogs – and there are many wild cats and dogs who act as an active reservoir for this parasite.
When the tapeworm reproduces the eggs come out in the faeces and lie dormant on the ground. Then along comes the lizard or any other vertebrate animal and consumes the young from the egg.
The larva then develops into another stage in the muscle of the host and lies dormant until eaten by a cat or a dog
Once eaten the infective larvae develops into the adult tapeworm in the small intestine of the dog or cat. They can be HUGE in size – up to 1.5 meters in length. Up to 30 days later the tapeworm is developing new eggs and the cycle continues.
The animals most affected by this tapeworm are cats, but it is not unusual to have a dog affected by the Spirometra.
It can and does cause problems in some of the animals – mainly seen as chronic diarrhea, vomiting and in some severe cases it can cause chronic weight loss.
It should be noted that in the infective larval stage it can affect humans – usually as a small lump under the skin but in some rare cases the infected larvae can travel into the brain, spinal cord, or eye and cause serious problems.
As I said in the beginning – normal worming tablets do NOT kill the worm. The only way to kill this pest is to use a drug called Praziquantel at 4 times the normal dose rate and in some cases, it is necessary to give this medication for 2 days to achieve the required result.
Praziquantel is available at East Bundaberg Veterinary Hospital and one of our veterinarians will be able to prescribe the appropriate animal for your pet.
All cats and dogs who hunt, kill and eat small prey should be wormed for this parasite every three months
Please contact us for more information