Potentially fatal dog parasite found in part of Colorado River for first time

Deadly Dog Parasite Detected in Colorado River Region for the First Time

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A dangerous parasite, known to be fatal to dogs, has been identified in the Colorado River in Southern California for the first time, according to a study by the University of California, Riverside. This parasite, a liver fluke scientifically termed Heterobilharzia americana, was previously mostly encountered in Texas and other Gulf states but has now made its way westward. “The risk to dogs swimming in the Colorado River is real, and we aim to alert the public to this danger,” stated Adler Dillman, a nematology professor at UC Riverside.

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A recent discovery in the Colorado River in Southern California has alarmed researchers. A study conducted by the University of California, Riverside, has uncovered the presence of a parasite capable of killing dogs. This finding was made after several dogs that had swum in the river were infected by the parasite.

The research team journeyed to Blythe, California, located on the border with Arizona. There, they collected and analyzed 2,000 snails from the banks of the Colorado River. The results of their study indicate that the parasite’s distribution is more widespread than previously thought. This has significant implications for public health, veterinary medicine, and the conservation of biodiversity. The study emphasizes the need for effective control strategies to halt the spread of this emerging infectious disease.

In a groundbreaking discovery, researchers have confirmed the presence of Heterobilharzia americana along the Colorado River shores for the first time. This parasite was found infecting two species of snails, marking a significant westward expansion of this North American schistosome. The identification of the parasite in an area known for cases of canine schistosomiasis highlights the ongoing threat and potential for further spread of this parasitic disease.

Heterobilharzia americana, primarily found in the Gulf Coast and South Atlantic regions of North America, has now been detected in states such as Indiana, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Utah. This parasite poses a risk not only to dogs but also to a variety of mammals including raccoons, marsh rabbits, horses, nutria, bobcats, mountain lions, and opossums.

Eleven dogs across three counties have been diagnosed with the disease caused by this parasite, resulting in one fatality. The parasite enters through the skin and travels to the lungs, causing severe damage. “It’s not the adult parasites that cause the most harm but the eggs. They lodge in the lungs, spleen, liver, and heart, leading to organ failure,” explained Dillman. Symptoms such as loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, significant weight loss, and liver disease signs may take months to appear. Treatment involves multiple medications and close veterinary supervision.

For more information and resources, download the Fox News app. While the parasite can cause swimmer’s itch in humans, it does not lead to infection.