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More than 80 lungworm reports in the last two months and six more deaths

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  • More than 80 lungworm reports in the last two months and six more deaths

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    In a continuing effort to chart the spread of lungworm (Angiostrongylus vasorum) across the country, vets have reported more than 80 incidences to Bayer since February1.

    Tragically at least 6 of these cases resulted in death, showing this is still a key threat to dogs across much of the UK, with fatal cases reported in Salisbury, Crawley, Ipswich and Essex - this included a 13-week old puppy in the Crawley area.1

    The reports show that of the 84 incidences recorded, 43 practices reported that this case was not the first experienced1. With no requirement for compulsory reporting, it is estimated that many other cases are likely to have gone undocumented.

    The reports submitted to Bayer also revealed that though the majority of cases were found in the South of the UK, incidences were reported as far north as Paisley in Scotland1. This growing spread of reported cases adds to the increasing base of evidence that lungworm is endemic throughout much of the UK and continues to pose a significant threat to dogs.

    Recent research by Bayer confirms that over a third of vets (37 per cent) thought cases of lungworm had increased in their area over the last five years.2 A study from the University of Bristol which examined the fox population also provides robust evidence to support the parasite’s spread across the UK.3 The research suggests that the overall prevalence of A.vasorum in foxes is 18.3 per cent in the UK, which is significantly higher than a previous study published in 2008, which reported a prevalence of 7.3 per cent.3

    The South East is reported to have the highest prevalence, with 50 per cent of foxes now found to be infected with the parasite (more than double the previous figure). Even in Northern UK (North of England & Scotland) 7.4% of foxes were now found to be infected despite none being found in this region in the earlier study.

    Dogs which have picked up a lungworm infection can show a number of different symptoms including breathing difficulties, a lack of energy, coughing and persistent bleeding. However, the clinical signs can be varied and some dogs may appear healthy in the early stages of infection.

    Gavin McAulay, a cardio respiratory specialist at New Priory Veterinary Hospital in Brighton said: “With often confusing symptoms, the clinical judgement of vets is key in ensuring an animal is diagnosed and treated against lungworm as soon as possible. In many scenarios lungworm should be a consideration to be assessed in the background whilst investigating other conditions, however monthly prevention is key. There is evidence with other parasite diseases that suggests the more animals you treat, the better protected other animals in the area are.”

    Bayer’s ‘Act Against Lungworm’ campaign is urging vets to encourage monthly lungworm preventative treatment and avoid the tragedy of losing an animal. Prevention which stops larval shedding will also help limit the geographical spread of the disease.

    Donna Tomlinson, Senior Product Manager for Advocate said: “With the continued spread of lungworm in the UK, it is important to ensure that our 2017 ‘Act Against Lungworm’ campaign resonates with local communities. We have the case studies to show that lungworm has been reported across the UK, but we rely on the support of vets to help get the message out.

    “This year we are putting local vets at the center of our communications, with dedicated campaigns planned in every region. This is a great opportunity for practices to get involved in a local media campaign, talk about their first-hand experiences with the parasite and encourage pet owners to visit them for advice on preventative treatment.”

    Vets can report cases to their local Bayer Territory Manager or practices can log their own incidences directly by emailing lungworm@bayer.com.

    ‘Act Against Lungworm’ vet campaign materials are available for practices to display in waiting rooms, as well as leaflets to assist practitioners in communicating to dog owners the importance of protecting their pet against
    lungworm. These can be ordered via the Bayer Vet Centre (www.vetcentre.bayer.co.uk).


    References:

    1. Based on number of cases reported to Bayer by veterinary practices in the UK and Ireland since February.
    2. Survey of 300 UK Vets, conducted by Bryter in March 2017.
    3. Taylor et al. Increased prevalence and geographic spread of the cardiopulmonary nematode Angiostrongylus vasorum in fox populations in Great Britain. Parasitology
    (2015) 142(9):1190-6.
    Last edited by Caroline Johnson; 17-05-2017, 01:04 PM.
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