Pulmonary Capillariosis

Cardio-respiratory roundworms affecting dogs and cats are nowadays common in several countries, where they have a growing importance due to their ability to cause diseases, possible zoonotic hazard, and spreading in areas previously free of infection.

Capillaria aerophila is a roundworm (nematode) causing pulmonary infections in wild and domestic animals, and occasionally in humans. The adult lungworms live embedded in the tissue of the bronchioles, bronchi, and trachea of the host. After mating, the females lay eggs that are coughed, swallowed, and released via feces into the environment, where they undergo further development through the infectious stage. Animals become infected by ingesting environmental embryonated eggs or earthworms, which are considered an intermediate host.

Pulmonary capillariosis in dogs and cats may have no signs, although the parasite may cause a chronic bronchitis. Some animals may sneeze, wheeze, and have chronic dry cough; when bacterial complications occur, the cough may become moist and productive, leading to bronchopneumonia and respiratory failure, and additionally, heavy parasite burdens may lead to death.2

Infected dogs will be administered a course of appropriate antiheminthic medications, usually ivermectin and fenbendazole, particularly in mild to moderate infections.3


  1. Molecular Detection of Capillaria aerophila, an Agent of Canine and Feline Pulmonary Capillariosis
  2. Fleas infesting pets in the era of emerging extra-intestinal nematodes
  3. Small Animal Critical Care Medicine. Deborah Silverstein, Kate Hopper
Capillaria aerophila egg micrograph

Capillaria aerophila egg
Source: PubMed Central

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