This parasite is the marine mammal lungworm! Here at NMLC the most common lung worm infections we see present in our seals are Otostrongylus circumlitus and Parafilaroides gymnurus. These are mostly found during routine fecal analysis of our seals, but can also be seen during necropsies as well. Some of the first signs of a parasitic infection in the lungs would be anorexia, coughing, and there may even be bloody mucosal discharge coming from their mouth or nose. Some seals have been reported to be dehydrated, show signs of a depressed state, or have an abnormal high number of neutrophils in their white blood cell count before the worms become mature. The mucolytic drug treatment helps to thin any mucus built up in the lungs that is limiting proper breathing. Prednisone and Dexamethasone are used to treat any inflammation and the Ivermectin is prescribed to help with general parasitic infections.
Colegrove, Kathleen M. “Pinnipediae.” Pathology of Wildlife and Zoo Animals, Elsevier B.V., 2021. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/lungworms. Accessed 16 April 2021.
Leidenberger, Sonja and Bostrom, Sven. “Description of the lungworm Otostrongylus circumlitus (Railliet, 1899) de Bruyn, 1933 (Metastrongyloidea: Crenosomatidae) found in the heart of harbor seals from Sweden.” Journal of Nematode Morphology and Systematics, 12 (2): 169-175 (2009), https://www.researchgate.net/publication/257932731_Description_of_the_lungworm_Otsostrongylus_circumlitus_Railliet_1899_de_Bruyn_1933_Metastrongyloidea_Crenosomatidae_found_in_the_heart_of_harbour_seals_from_Sweden. Accessed 16 April 2021.
Stoskopf, Michael K. “Parasitic Diseases of Marine Mammals.” Merck Manual Veterinary Manual, Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp., 2021, https://www.merckvetmanual.com/exotic-and-laboratory-animals/marine-mammals/parasitic-diseases-of-marine-mammals. Accessed 16 April 2021.
Posted By Amber R.
Amber is a spring intern studying in the Animal Health Care Program at Bristol Community College.