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Deadly dog parasite: Where has it been found so far?

A dangerous parasite known to be fatal for dogs, previously thought to be confined to Texas and Gulf Coast states, has been identified in California, marking its first known presence in the West. Researchers from the University of California Riverside discovered the liver fluke, Heterobilharzia americana, in parts of the Colorado River running through Southern California. This discovery has prompted warnings to dog owners about the risks of allowing their pets to swim in these waters, as the parasite can lead to a severe disease affecting the liver and intestines, often resulting in euthanasia.


The University’s findings revealed that the parasite, causing canine schistosomiasis, is transmitted through snails found along the riverbanks. Surprisingly, two species of snails capable of carrying the parasite were identified in the area. This expands the known habitat of the flatworm and its vectors, raising concerns about the spread of the infection to other regions and its potential impact on local dog populations.

Health experts are advising dog owners to seek veterinary testing if their pets exhibit symptoms like loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or signs of liver disease after being in the Colorado River. While the parasite poses no threat to humans, it has already affected 11 dogs in California, resulting in one fatality. The presence of H. americana highlights the need for increased awareness and precautionary measures for pet owners enjoying natural water bodies with their furry friends.



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