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Creepy crawlies: N.S. vet warns of parasitic larvae dangerous to pets

Creepy crawlies: N.S. vet warns of parasitic larvae dangerous to pets

CTV Atlantic
Published Wednesday, September 23, 2015 9:28AM ADT
Last Updated Wednesday, September 23, 2015 9:30AM ADT

A veterinarian is sounding the alarm about parasitic larvae that may be hazardous to pets.

The warning comes after Beau, a three-year-old Maltese Pomeranian, developed a bump on his side and started cleaning it obsessively.

“He wasn’t in pain but he kept licking it, because the worm was moving under his skin,” says Beau’s owner Lena Comeau.

It turns out a Cuterebra, parasitic larvae better known as the common botfly, had embedded itself under Beau’s skin.

Once the eggs find a warm host, they immediately attach and burrow under the skin, where they can grow before breaking out, turning into the flies, and repeating the cycle.

In addition to being uncomfortable, the Cuterebra can also prove deadly for pets.

“In rare circumstances it can. Those are rare, but it can,” says Dr. Heather Mosher, a veterinarian at the Tantallon Veterinary Hospital. “There’s reports of it migrating to the pharynx of the throat and into the brain.”

Cuterebra isn’t unheard of in the Maritimes, but it’s not overly common either. It’s sometimes found in rodent holes – the kind of place dogs and cats love to explore.

Experts say weather conditions have been ideal for lots of creatures, including certain types of insects, this year. Laying eggs around rodent holes is a convenient, and smart, way to find a host.

As for Beau, he’s expected to make a full recovery.

“It’s all healed. There’s no sign of any inflammation or infection, so he’s good to go,” says Mosher.

With cooler nights and shorter days of fall upon us, experts say the Cuterebra is also winding down, lowering the risk for pets.

With files from CTV Atlantic's Bruce Frisko
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