WARNING: Deadly Parasite Found in Colorado River

WARNING: Deadly Parasite Found in Colorado River

(DailyDig.com) – For the first time, researchers have discovered the parasite Heterobilharzia americana, also known as the liver fluke, in the Southern California Colorado River. It is usually found in the Gulf States and has the potential to kill dogs, according to a University of California study.

Adler Dillman, a professor at UC Riverside, said that they want to warn the public of the parasite in the river and the danger their pet dog may be in if it swims there.

Researchers collected about 2,000 snails on the Colorado River bank in Blythe, California. They tested them after some dogs became infected with the parasite. They discovered a wider distribution than they initially thought. This will impact veterinary medicine, public health, and conservation regarding biodiversity as they develop a strategy to control the spread of the parasite.

The authors of the study said they confirmed the parasite that infected the Galba cubensis and Galba humilis snail species. The snails are a host for the parasite prior to the snails shedding the juvenile worm. It then finds a new host, such as horses, rabbits, raccoons, bobcats, mountain lions, dogs, and opossums.

Dillman explained that once the worm penetrates the skin of the host, it travels to the lining of the intestine, where it matures to adulthood and mates in the intestinal veins. The lungs, liver, spleen, and heart receive the laid eggs. The animal’s immune system attempts to fight the intruders, causing the cells of the immune system to form hard clusters. At some point, the tissues of the organ cease functioning.

UC Riverside said that eleven dogs have contracted the disease, with one fatality. Symptoms of infection include a decrease in their appetite, which leads to weight loss, diarrhea, vomiting, and symptoms of liver failure. The symptoms may take months before they are noticeable.

Emily Beeler, an LA County Department of Public Health veterinarian, reported to the news media that the typical treatment for the infection uses various medications and a veterinarian closely observing the dog.

Copyright 2024, DailyDig.com