Meningeal Worm of Sheep, Llama, etc

Dan Wixted djwixted at FACSTAFF.WISC.EDU
Thu Oct 2 15:26:10 EST 1997


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I have a 7-year-old llama that shows symptoms of meningeal worm
(Paralaphostrongylus tenius).  The parasite is in our geographic area, as
we have a heavy population of white-tailed deer, which is a host.  However,
I understand that to obtain the worm, the llama would have had to ingest a
snail that contained infective larvae.  Our pasture's soil is pure sand,
almost like beach sand, and our soil is so well drained that we have never
had a puddle on our property.  We are avid naturalists and have documented
scores of bird species, over 20 mammals, endangered reptiles, insects that
were previously unlisted in our area, etc.  But we have never seen, nor
would we expect to see, a snail.

My questions:  What is the intermediate host of meningeal worm? Where is
one likely to find it (habitat description)? I have scoured the
parasitology texts in the University of Wisconsin's ag library and can't
even find the worm mentioned, let alone its ecology.  When I bring up our
land's characteristics, local vets just say the worm is in the area, but
won't comment on how it could occur in such a spot as ours.  Local
shepherds, on the other hand, can't believe it would be the worm because
the land should not be good snail habitat.

We are treating for the worm anyway, since other possibilities such as
tumor could not be cured; thus, we have not done a spinal tap to check for
the worms themselves.

Any information, and as soon as possible, would be appreciated.
Dan Wixted			Office: 344A Moore Hall
Extension Outreach Specialist	     	Phone: (608) 262-8832
Pesticide Applicator Training	     	FAX: (608) 262-5217
University of Wisconsin-Madison	djwixted at facstaff.wisc.edu
Department of Agronomy		http://ipcm.wisc.edu/pat/
1575 Linden Drive
Madison, WI  53706

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