The Daily Telegraph recently ran an article on the threat of the ‘Eye Worm’, Thelazia callipaeda, to dogs in the UK. We hasten to add that to date we are unaware of any cases in Guernsey, but several cases have recently been reported in England in dogs that have travelled to Europe.
The worm lives in the conjunctivae of not only dogs but also of cats and foxes. The common fruit fly transmits the worm from animal to animal, and as this fly lives in the UK, it is possible that if the worm became established from pets travelling north from Europe that we could end up with this parasite endemically on our Island.
The symptoms are of chronic conjunctivitis; inflammation, discomfort and discharge. Many (but not all) worm products will kill this worm before it can cause too much damage. Our advice for pet owner’s travelling to southern Europe is to prophylactically treat against Dirofilaria heartworm anyway, and if this is undertaken, then the eye worm should be prevented as well. If an unfortunate pet is infected and receives no medication, then serious damage and even possible blindness could result.
If you are unsure, please contact us before you travel, the longer ahead of your travel date the better.