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J Feline Med Surg. 2015 Jul;17(7):626-36. doi: 10.1177/1098612X15588455.

Lungworm disease in cats: ABCD guidelines on prevention and management.



Cardiopulmonary nematodes are emerging parasites of cats in Europe. A number of helminth parasites may be involved. The most prevalent lungworm in domestic cats is Aelurostrongylus abstrusus. Oslerus rostratus and Troglostrongylus species are found mainly in wild cats. The trichurid Capillaria aerophila has a low host specificity and is not uncommon in cats. Additionally the lung flukes Paragonimus species are reported in many species outside of Europe, including cats.


Lungworm infections may be asymptomatic, or cause mild to severe respiratory signs, dependent on the worm species and burden; mixed infections are observed. Kittens can be vertically infected and may develop a more severe disease. Affected cats show a productive cough, mucopurulent nasal discharge, tachypnoea, dyspnoea and, in severe cases, respiratory failure and death.


Early diagnosis and treatment greatly improves the prognosis. First-stage larvae can be easily detected in fresh faecal samples; the Baermann migration method is the enrichment technique of choice, but takes 24 h. Lungworm larvae can be found in tracheal swabs and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid, but with less sensitivity than in faeces. Molecular methods have been developed that exhibit high specificity and sensitivity, and allow diagnosis in the prepatent phase. Treatment options include fenbendazole paste, milbemycin oxime/praziquantel and various spot-on formulations. Severe cases should receive prompt medical care in an intensive care unit.


Avoiding predation is at present the only preventive measure for pulmonary worms with indirect life cycles.


C aerophila has zoonotic potential, causing severe pulmonary disease in humans. Some Paragonimus species are also of zoonotic concern.

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