Categories: parasitic worms

European parasite can cause blindness in dogs and also puts cats at risk

There is an interesting article in the Times today, Wednesday, September 20th reporting on a parasitic worm that can blind pets. The report concerns three British dogs infected with Oriental eye worm but both humans and cats are also at risk.

Oriental eye worm in a dog’s eye.

Scientists recommend that all pets travelling to high-risk areas be given preventative eyedrops. You’ll have to ask your vet for information about the drops as I can’t find it online. The worm’s scientific name is: Thelazia callipaeda. It is spread by a species of fruit fly (secretophagous flies).

“These flies buzz around the eyes of animals and humans at the daytime, landing on the eyes and releasing the infective larvae on the host conjunctiva…” (Transmission of the eyeworm Thelazia callipaeda: between fantasy and reality).

It is endemic in Greece, Spain, Italy, France and other destinations.

In the UK there been cases in Berkshire, Kent and Gloucestershire and there are fears that it could spread to wildlife including foxes.

Scientists at the University of Liverpool report that humans and cats are also at risk and a report has been published in the British Medical Journal’s Veterinary Record.

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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  • I have heard about eyeworms, but I was not aware that they were present in the UK and Europe. Sounds like transmission to the US is probable, if these parasites are not already present here too.

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