The parasitic eye worm, Thelazia callipaeda, has been spreading across Europe and is not being called a “significant threat” in the UK.
The parasite can cause blindness in your dog if it isn’t treated. Three dogs in the UK have been diagnosed with the worm, and all of them had been on trips to other European countries (Italy, Romania, and France). The parasite can live inside the eyes of cats, dogs, humans, and foxes and is transmitted by flies. The fly is a type of fruit fly, and when it lands on the eyes, it will feed on the secretions from the eye and lay its infected larvae.
The infection that results can cause blindness or death. Symptoms of the parasite include excessive watering, scarring of the cornea, visual impairments, corneal ulcers and pink eye. The parasite is most commonly found in Italy were about 40% of dogs are infected. T callipaeda is also known as the “oriental eye worm” because the first known case was identified in a dog that lived in China in 1910.
Cases in Switzerland, Spain, Germany, Portugal, Hungary, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Greece have been identified. The British Medical Journals stated that the risk is high for pets who travel or are imported from mainland Europe. They also said that it is important to properly screen dogs that have traveled and there are tests and treatments that can prevent the pathogen from becoming an issue in the UK. If you have traveled with your dog to Europe, be on the lookout for the symptoms.
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