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Vet Ophthalmol. 2005 Jan-Feb;8(1):51-7.

Canine ocular onchocerciasis in the United States: two new cases and a review of the literature.

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  • 1University of Wisconsin Madison, School of Veterinary Medicine, Comparative Ocular Pathology Laboratory of Wisconsin, Department of Pathobiological Science, 2015 Linden Drive West, Madison, WI 53706, USA.


Since 1991, 53 cases of canine ocular onchocerciasis have been reported in the literature worldwide, 43 of these were from Greece, five from Hungary, and five from the western United States. Information on the histopathologic features of canine ocular onchocerciasis is limited. We describe the histopathologic features of canine ocular onchocerciasis in two dogs from California that presented clinically with firm episcleral nodules and uveitis unilaterally. Pertinent literature and pathogenesis are reviewed; recognizable clinical features and treatment are discussed. The cases presented were diagnosed via histopathology of the enucleated globes and episcleral granulomas at the Comparative Ocular Pathology Laboratory of Wisconsin (COPLOW). Positive identification of adult Onchocerca within episcleral granulomas was made based on light-microscopy features. Histopathologic examination of both globes revealed episcleral parasites surrounded by granulomas containing few to moderate numbers of eosinophils. Other sequelae, in both cases, included lymphoplasmacytic uveitis, preiridal fibrovascular membranes, peripheral anterior synechiae, retinal degeneration, and optic nerve head cupping. Both male and female worms were present, as were in utero microfilariae in both cases. Worms in both cases were tentatively identified as Onchocerca lienalis. Ocular onchocerciasis should be a differential consideration in cases of canine conjunctival nodules or periorbital swelling, particularly in dogs from the western United States.

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