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Lungworm continuing to spread within UK

by
01 March 2013, at 12:00am

LAST year’s damp summer and mild winter conditions have proved ideal for slug and snail populations, leading those in the know to warn of a continued spread of Angiostrongylus vasorum in the UK.

Furthermore, a study by the RVC has shown that A. vasorum is spreading beyond the traditional geographic distribution with 20% of veterinary practices across the country reporting at least one case.

A new survey of more than 2,000 UK dog owners, launching this year’s Be Lungworm Aware campaign by Bayer, has discovered that 84% admit to not being able to identify the symptoms of the parasite in their dog. A third said they don’t know how their dog can become infected and half said they don’t believe their dog is at risk.

In a separate study by Bayer, 84% of dog owners said their vet would be the first port of call if they were worried their dog was at risk. The majority (94%) also said they would be more likely to use a product against fleas and worms monthly if they knew it also prevented the parasite.

To help raise awareness of A. vasorum, vets and owners nationwide are being asked to sign up to pledge that “No more dogs need die” as a result of the parasite, in a scheme to educate owners through the Be Lungworm Aware campaign.

Educating owners

The scheme will offer support and education to owners and participating practices throughout March, which has been labelled “Lungworm Awareness Month”. 

The biodiversity and conservation officer at The Natural History Museum, Professor Fred Naggs, said that an increase in the number of slug and snail populations this year would suggest there will consequently be a continued spread of the parasite.

Caroline Braidwood, group product manager at Bayer Animal Health, said that while dog owners were becoming more aware of A. vasorum, there was still a real lack of understanding as to the warning signs associated with the condition and how to prevent or treat it.

“Some owners still believe that lungworm can be prevented by using normal intestinal wormers, which is not the case,” she said. “Our aim with the Be Lungworm Aware campaign is to drive pet owners to their vet practice, where they can then be informed of the danger of the parasite and educated about correct preventive treatment.” 

 Practices can request a range of materials from Bayer, including a practice press pack. The pack is designed to promote the awareness campaign to local dog-owning clients and will include a regional press release, images and other material including leaflets, posters and a campaign DVD for display in waiting rooms.