Be alert of roundworm trouble in cats!
Roundworm causes Toxocariosis in cats. Here is an alert to this dreaded disease.
Toxocara cati, also known as feline roundworm, is a dreadful parasite that causes Toxocariosis among cats. Across various countries, eggs of these parasites are found in 2-90 percent soil samples and they are prone to spreading infection fast in high temperature and humid tropical regions.
Cats are the definitive hosts for Toxocara cati (T cati). The transmission and life cycle of T cati is thought to be similar to that of T canis (dog roundworm). However, Tcati is not transmitted through uterus or placenta. Kittens are infected only through milk or colostrum. Hypobiotic larvae are not transmitted through lactogenic route. Adult cats can develop patent infections after ingesting either eggs or larvae. In cats, hypobiotic T cati larvae are found mainly in the muscles. Cats shed T cati between the age of two and six months.
In cats, infected kittens show fewer symptoms than puppies. Many infections in kittens are asymptomatic. In heavy
infections, the clinical signs in cats may include abdominal distension, rough coat, diarrhoea with dehydration. In adult cats, due to migration of larvae, the primary lesions may be
eosinophilic pulmonary endarteritis and medial hyperplasia of the pulmonary arteries.
When treating Toxocariosis in both kittens and puppies, anthelmintics like pyrantelpamoate, praziquantel are found to be effective. But in case of adult dogs and cats, Fenbendazole, Levamisole and Albendazole may be some effective drugs. In order to get rid of T cati, kittens and puppies should be dewormed, which helps eliminate shedding of Toxocara eggs. But there is no specific practical method available so far to remove the eggs from the soil once being contaminated.
(A Sangaran, ST Bino Sundar and BR Latha are from the faculty of Department of Veterinary Parasitology, Madras Veterinary College, Tamil NaduVeterinary and Animal Sciences University, Chennai).