General information on Lungworms
Lungworms are small parasites that infect the respiratory tract. These parasites are very thin and are only about one centimeter long. Lungworms injure the tissues in the airways causing an inflammatory reaction. These lungworms continue to live and reproduce in these tissues as well. There are many different types of species of lungworms, but only two of these commonly affect cats. The most common species of lungworms that affect cats are Aeleurostrongylus abstrussus and the second most common species of lungworms are Capillaria aerophila. In Aeleurostrongylus abstrussus, the larvae are passed through feces and are then picked up by snails. The snails are then eaten by birds which are then eaten by cats. The eggs hatch in the cat that has eaten the infected bird giving them lungworms. This process makes it far more likely that an outdoor cat will get lungworms. In Capillaria aerophila, the cat will eat an already infected animal like a bird. Extremely severe infections typically occur in cats that are younger than two years of age. In severe cases of infestation, additional illnesses such as bacterial bronchitis and pneumonia may also develop.
Symptoms of Lungworms
The symptoms of a cat infected with lungworms depends on the severity of the infestation and the species of lungworms infecting the cat. Some of the symptoms of lungworms may be persistent and dry coughing, lethargy, weight loss, intolerance to exercise, fever, wheezing, and nasal discharge.
Treatments for Lungworms
The treatment for lungworms is anti-parasite medications, or dewormers. Ivermectin is commonly prescribed by veterinarians and is very effective in many cases. Anti-inflammatory medication may also be prescribed in cases where there is a severe reaction to the parasites. Should bacterial bronchitis or pneumonia develop, antibiotics may also be prescribed to treat these conditions.
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