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A species of invasive, parasitic worm normally only found in wildlife has begun to infect domestic cats, say veterinarians. A bulletin from the Cornell University Press reported on Thursday that the foot-long Dracunculus insignis worm has been found in cats in the northeastern U.S. rather than in their normal hosts, raccoons and other wild mammals.
There is no drug treatment for the worms, which must be removed surgically from humans and animals alike.
“Although rare in cats, this worm may be common in wildlife and the only way to protect animals from it is to keep them from drinking unfiltered water and from hunting,” said Lucio-Forster. “In other words, keep them indoors.”
The Journal of Feline Medicine published a paper titled “First Report of Dracunculus Insignis in Two Naturally Infected Cats from the Northeastern USA” in its February issue.
Dracunculus worms are found all over the globe and infect a wide variety of host animals, incuding humans.
Prior to the new feline infections, Dracunculus insignis was only found in raccoons and other wild animals and, in some rare cases, dogs.
The worms do little direct harm to the host except for the shallow lesion where they come through the skin.