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Angiostrongylus (A.) vasorum is a mainly gastropode (slugs, snails) borne disease with a nematode classified in the superfamily Metastrongyloidae being the causative agent. The life cycle of this emerging parasite accounts for various clinical signs. In Germany A. vasorum infections have mainly been reported in the southern and western parts of Germany. However A. vasorum infection was detected in 11 out of 122 red foxes from Brandenburg. They are the suggested reservoir hosts in this area.
The aim of this study was to provide further insights on this parasite and its occurrence in the Berlin/Brandenburg area: clinical signs, laboratory and radiographical changes, as well as treatment and outcome.
Medical records of dogs diagnosed with A. vasorum were evaluated retrospectively. The inclusion criterion was a diagnosis of A. vasorum infection based on detection of larvae in fecal samples (8), in tracheal wash fluid (6) and/or via antigen testing (IDEXX, Angio Detect™) in serum (15).
In 23 dogs consisting of 19 different breeds and 3 crossbreed dogs angiostrongylosis was diagnosed. The median age was 4 years (range 0.5 to 11), 15 dogs were male and 8 female. Twenty of 23 dogs came from Berlin. Eight of 14 dogs with a known travel history had never left Germany. The most common signs on admission were cough (48%), tachypnea/dyspnea (30%), vomitus (17%) and neurological signs (17%). Hematological changes included leukocytosis (70%), eosinophilia (78%), neutrophilia (65%), monocytosis (65%), thrombocytopenia (30%) and anemia (26%). Biochemistry abnormalities were hyperproteinemia (50%), hypoalbuminemia (57%), azotemia (20%), and hypercalcemia (14%). Four of 8 dogs had a prolonged activated partial thromboplastin time. Thoracic radiographic abnormalities were detected in 15 dogs (65%).
Twenty-two dogs were treated with moxidectin, 1 dog received fenbendazol in addition. One dog was treated with fenbendazol only. Additional medication included prednisolone (6), theophylline (8) and antimicrobial therapy (8). Eight dogs needed hospitalization. Two dogs died after admission (during anesthesia; due to progressing neurological signs and bleeding diathesis). Nineteen dogs recovered, 2 were lost to follow-up. Median time of anthelmintic treatment was 4 weeks (range 3 to 16).
A. vasorum infection is an emerging disease and should be considered as important differential diagnosis for various clinical signs in the Berlin/Brandenburg area.