Helminthic diseases are diverse and harmful to the cat's body. Parasitic worms not only take away nutrients from the animal, but also generously "endow" its body with a wide variety of toxic substances. The latter do not make the cat healthier. One of the most common pathologies of this type is ascariasis in cats.
So-called diseases caused by parasitic species of nematodes, that is, roundworms. It is believed that this is the most common type of helminth pathology in the world (not only in animals, but also in humans). Note that the nematodes themselves are quite harmless and even useful creatures: many thousands of soil species are known that live in the soil and contribute to a better soil formation process.
Scientists believe that it was from the soil that the first "progenitors" of parasitic species fell into the body of animals. Over many millions of years, they gradually adapted to the parasitic way of life, their structure was greatly simplified.
However, roundworms are still considered one of the most complex parasitic worms., since almost all of their species are dioecious, and parasites, ejected from the digestive tract of animals, are able to maintain viability in the external environment for a relatively long time.
An indirect confirmation that even today the process of evolution of parasites continues is a curious fact: annually inflammatory diseases are recorded in humans and animals, affecting the skin of the feet or paw pads. The cause of sudden dermatitis are ... completely harmless larvae soil nematodes. It is possible that after a while a new type of parasite will appear in the world.
In addition, many of the varieties of these parasitic worms have been described by scientists even before our era. Often the discoveries of such facts were very unexpected. Everyone knows that the ancient Egyptians "canned" their dead, making mummies from their bodies. But not everyone has the idea that in a similar way in those distant times they acted ... with dead cats, which were considered sacred animals in Egypt of that period. The entrails of the deceased pets were removed and stacked in special vessels, which are found by many archaeologists.
So here. In many bowls, in addition to the "natural" viscera, sometimes whole ligaments were found ... dried roundworms. So human pets suffered from these parasites even in those distant times. By the way, similar findings are not uncommon when opening purely “human” burials, so people also suffered from ascariasis from time immemorial. Since that time, a lot of information has been accumulated on the symptoms of these diseases, common transmission routes and methods of treatment. This facilitates the work of modern veterinarians.
By the way, how many types of roundworms are transmitted to humans? Fortunately, in the case of cats, the situation is not particularly dangerous. There are common species, but not many. In addition, most often only small children and the elderly are at risk. The immune system of an adult and a healthy person without any problems will destroy the parasite larvae on their own.
What symptoms of ascariasis in cats can be noticed even by not the most experienced breeder? In general, mature and strong cats often have no clinical signs at all. But! AT the period of migration from the lungs to the digestive tract (which will be discussed below), the animal develops a strong cough, accompanied by secretion of sputum. After about a couple of weeks, he begins to subside (and without treatment).
Since some types of roundworms feed on blood, an anemia gradually develops in a sick animal. Gums and all visible mucous membranes turn pale (pictured), the pet quickly gets tired, becomes apathetic. If such symptoms began to appear in the kitten or young animal, you should urgently show it to the veterinarian, since the cat may simply die.
When the disease lasts a long time, helminth toxins have a pronounced negative effects on metabolism. This is especially noticeable in the state of the skin and coat: they become dry, hair becomes brittle. If you take the skin of a cat “into a pinch”, then the fold will be aligned for a long time, which indicates dehydration and a significant degree of intoxication of the body.
Of course, the most obvious evidence of ascariasis in an animal are the parasites themselves, which may be excreted both during bowel movements (i.e. in feces), and with vomiting. Keep in mind that the appearance of worms in the vomit is a formidable symptom that indicates a serious degree of helminthic invasion. In the intestines of your animal, there is a huge amount of parasites that threatens to rupture its walls and the death of the animal.
The development of many parasitic species of nematodes proceeds according to the same scenario: first, worm eggs enter the intestines of the animal. There they emerge larvae that ... do not remain in the digestive tract, but pierce the wall of the intestines, find a more or less suitable blood vessel in size, and go to travel around the cat's body. Their goal is the lungs.
In the organs of the respiratory system, the "embryos" remain for about a couple of weeks. During this time, the larvae develop to the next stage. This period has a very negative effect on the health of the animal. Small worms feed on the blood and scraped cell wall of the bronchi and alveoliAs a result, the animal quickly develops bronchitis. If the pet’s immune system is weak, it can result in pneumonia.
After the small parasites mature, the time for the second “journey” comes: the worms begin to intensively irritate the mucous membrane of the respiratory system, as a result of which the animal develops severe cough, accompanied by the release of a large amount of sputum. In the last expectorants and larvae. When a cat swallows mucus, they re-enter the lumen of the digestive organs. This time, the parasites do not go anywhere, but develop in the intestines to the adult stage, after which they begin to multiply intensively.
Every day, with the feces of a sick animal, many thousands of eggs get into the environment. It should be noted that in the soil they can persist for quite some time. In addition, eggs can be swallowed by invertebrate animals (most often by worms, sometimes by bugs). In their body, the embryos are not digested, but are "preserved." If they are eaten by a warm-blooded animal, the parasites will hatch and begin their development cycle anew.
Interestingthat when "sleeping" eggs enter the body of mouse-like rodents, the larvae nevertheless come out of them, but only in order to get into the internal organs of the animal and encapsulate there.
Common types of intestinal nematodes
Contrary to the widespread belief that parasitic worms predominantly “inhabit” the gastrointestinal tract, in fact, their various species can be found in the most unexpected places in the animal’s body. But first we look at those species that live in the gut, since it is with them most often that practicing veterinarians and animal owners have to face.
Parasites that cause toxocariasis, which are quite large in size. Thus, females can grow up to 10 centimeters at once, while males are much more “modest” and their body sizes rarely exceed 4 cm. The path of infection is exclusively alimentary, that is, the eggs of the worms are transmitted when they eat contaminated food and drink contaminated water . In addition, cases of transmission directly through mother's milk have been repeatedly recorded, and the mechanism of this phenomenon is quite curious.
The fact is that some part of the larvae hatching from eggs in the intestine, during standard migration, does not enter the lungs (as usual), but into various internal organs. Especially many larvae occur in the tissues of the mammary gland: they are encapsulated and “fall asleep”. When an animal gives birth, the biochemistry of the organ changes dramatically, which is a signal for parasites. They exit the state of suspended animation, after which they enter the milk of the animal. When kittens suck this "meal", they are automatically infected with helminthiasis.
In some cases, infection occurs through the "use" of an intermediate host, which can be played by mouse-like rodents or even invertebrates (that is, if an animal swallows a bug, it can become infected). The danger to humans is low. It is theoretically believed that people do not suffer from toxocariasis, but still in small children, occasionally, cases of the presence of adult parasites in the intestine were noted.
This disease is considered one of the most severe varieties of ascariasis.since parasite larvae can migrate to any organs during migration from the intestine (not only to the mammary glands, but also, for example, directly to the brain). In addition, there are regular cases of animal death from sudden sepsis or purulent peritonitis, which developed through the fault of bursting abscesses (which, in turn, grew “thanks to” the larvae).
Fortunately, more often the symptoms are limited to intermittent diarrhea and constipation, exhaustion, frequent dermatitis and other manifestations of skin allergic reactions. In a word, infected animals look very unpresentable.
Alas but small kittens often become victims of parasites: their delicate intestines simply can not withstand the pressure of hundreds of worms and burst. As a rule, it does not come to the provision of medical care, since the animal dies from pain shock and acute blood loss much earlier. So roundworms in cats are deadly, and you should definitely not hesitate in expelling them from the cat's body.
The causative agent of the disease is a parasite of the species Ancylostoma braziliense, that is, hookworm. It causes disease not only in cats, but also in many species of domestic and wild animals. It is interesting that a worm of this species can also settle in the human body, but in humans the parasite ... gets under the skin on the soles of the feet, causing inflammation (we already wrote about such "sacrilege" from ordinary soil nematodes).
Hookworms are dangerous with a wide variety of possible pathways of infection: they are able to penetrate the body of a potential host with food, water, mother's milk. It is also possible intrauterine infection, since for the parasite larvae, overcoming the placental barrier is not a particular problem. Grown up and "matured" parasites live in the small intestine. Many thousands of eggs come out with feces daily, the maturation of which takes about a couple of weeks. Note that the hookworm larvae swim well and feel great in stagnant ponds.
How is ascariasis in cats treated? In general, there is nothing complicated. If you list all the modern veterinary drugs used to eliminate parasitic worms, the whole book may not be enough. Here are just the most typical:
- Drontal, etc.
If you practice treatment at home, then remember to carefully read the instructions for all these drugs and carefully maintain dosage which is indicated in them! Otherwise, you can easily poison your pet, even fatal.
With helminthiases (as with any parasitic disease), not only treatment, but also prevention is extremely important, since immunity against worms is not generated. Throughout the course of therapy, it is extremely important to collect all the feces of the animal and destroy them, and for this purpose burning is best suited. Also desirable isolate the patient animal from children, the elderly, as well as immunocompromised. In the room where the pet is kept, you need to carry out wet cleaning daily, without stinting on the use of disinfectants. So you prevent the spread of the parasite in the environment.