Cat Lungworm (Capillaria aerophila [Eucoleus aerophilus])
Kingdom: Animalia / Phylum: Nematoda / Class: Enoplea / Order: Enoplea / Family: Capillariidae
Capillaria aerophila (syn. Eucoleus aerophilus) is a type of lungworm found in cats and dogs in many European countries. The adult parasites inhabit the epithelium of the trachea and bronchi. Relatively little is known about the parasite despite its global distribution.
Adult Capillaria aerophila worms reside in the epithelium of the bronchioles, bronchi, and trachea. They are thin, long worms with males reaching lengths of 16-18 mm and females 18-20 mm.
The life cycle of Capillaria aerophilus is direct. Eggs are laid by female worms in the respiratory tract. They are coughed up, swallowed and shed into the environment in faeces.
Earthworms can act as a facultative paratenic host, and pets become infected when they ingest infective eggs or earthworms carrying larvae. The larvae migrate to the lungs and develop into adults in 26-32 days.
Pets become infected with Capillaria aerophila when they ingest infective eggs or earthworms carrying larvae. Earthworms can act as a facultative paratenic host.
Capillaria aerophila worms inhabit the epithelium of the trachea and bronchi; disease can be subclinical, but may lead to wheezing, sneezing, coughing, chronic bronchitis, and even bronchopneumonia in severe burdens or when there is a secondary bacterial infection.
Although very rare there are reports of human cases of Capillaria aerophila
Diagnosis of Capillaria aerophila can be made using faecal flotation to detect eggs or by microscopy and detection of eggs following nasal or tracheal flush.