Although the number of cases so far is limited, the condition is on the rise. An eye infection in dogs, caused by worms. This specifically concerns Thelazia callipaeda, a worm transmitted by fruit flies (drosophila). The fruit flies feed on tears, allowing the larvae to nest in the eyes of the dog. The worms themselves, 4-6 mm in length, grow from the larvae. Except that it is very annoying for the dog, it is a zoonosis, the worms can also infect humans.
Recently vets in England warned against the advancing worm, which is mainly "imported" from countries such as Italy and France. And now that more and more dogs go on vacation, paying attention is appropriate. In the Netherlands there are currently about a dozen of cases known, most of them from dogs imported from southern countries, but also -in 2012- in dogs that had been on holiday in southern France.
The worm was first discovered in the eyes of a dog in China in 1910. In 2000 there were more than 250 cases of people reported in the medical literature. In addition to humans, cats and dogs, the worm also occurs in wolves, raccoon dogs, foxes and the rabbit.
Symptoms of T. callipaeda infection are conjunctivitis, excessive tearing of the eyes (lacrimation), visual disturbances and ulcers or scars on the cornea. In some cases, the only symptom is that the worm obscures the host's view as a "driver." The diagnosis is made by finding the adult worms in the eye or the surrounding tissues. Human cases are treated by simply removing the worms. In dogs, topical imidacloprid with moxidectin,] or milbemycin oxime (Interceptor) was recommended.
In Belgium two cases of the disease in dogs have been reported so far, both animals had been in the southwest of France. The disease has already been diagnosed regularly with dogs that have never been abroad, and who live - just in this case - and live in the Dordogne. There is a suspicion that the disease was introduced there via the fox, which came from Northern Italy. A survey among veterinarians in France in 2016 showed almost 100 cases of infection with the worm in dogs, again here especially in the Dordogne, but increasingly also in other regions. Also in Spain and (especially the Northeast) of Portugal the worm is frequently seen in dogs and in wild predators and rabbits.
Most - better - wormers offer and remedy against the T. callipaeda infection. If there is a suspicion of such contamination, consult the veterinarian and avoid contact with tears as much as possible to prevent cross-contamination.