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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Deadly urban fox disease spreading to dogs

By Daily Mail Reporter

Danger: Foxes carry the lungworm parasite, which can be lethal to dogs if left untreated. Symptoms include breathing problems, nose bleeds and vomiting

Dogs are at increasing risk from a deadly parasite spread by urban foxes, experts say.

Cases of lungworm infection –an animal disease that causes breathing problems and internal bleeding – have doubled in recent years.

The disease arrived in the UK 30 years ago and is carried by foxes, slugs and snails.

Once inside the dog’s system, the parasite travels through the body to the heart. If left untreated, it can be fatal.

For many years lungworm was limited to southern England and South Wales. But in the past decade vets have reported cases across the UK. According to a study carried out for the veterinary medicines company Bayer, 37 per cent of vets confirmed a diagnosis in the past year – compared to 16 per cent in 2008.

TV vet Luke Gamble said: ‘Lungworm is spreading at an alarming rate in the UK.

‘While dog owners are becoming more aware of lungworm, there is still a real lack of understanding as to the warning signs associated with the condition and how to prevent or treat it.’

The lungworm parasite, angiostrongylus vasorum, is carried in fox faeces.

Dogs pick up the disease if they swallow the pests or contaminated dirt.

Symptoms include breathing problems, nose bleeds and vomiting. The worm does not affect humans.



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