'Lungworm is here and needs to be acted upon' - Cases of parasite fatal to dogs tracked on interactive map of Ireland
Cases of a parasite that is potentially fatal to dogs are being tracked on an interactive map of Ireland in a bid to alert dog owners to its spread across the country.
Lungworm has already been deemed 'widespread' in the UK by the British Veterinary Association and over the last few years cases of the disease in Ireland have been on the increase.
Dogs can pick up the parasite after they accidentally or deliberately swallow infected slugs or snails, or possibly even after swallowing their slime.
Foxes play an important role in the spread of the disease by infecting slugs and snails who scavenge on fox droppings. A study carried out in 2015 identified that just under 40pc of foxes in Ireland were infected with lungworm.
The infected slugs and snails then pass the disease on to dogs.
If a dog swallows the parasite it travels through its body, ending up in the heart and blood vessels close to the lungs.
Dogs infected with lungworm may experience breathing problems, poor blood clotting and general sickness and if not treated early it can be fatal.
In a bid to track the spread of the disease, an interactive map of confirmed cases of lungworm in Ireland has been launched.
Produced by Bayer, it follows the launch of a similar map in the UK.
It is hoped that the map, which can be viewed here, will lead to better reporting of lungworm cases and help to control its spread in Ireland.
Martin O’Malley a practising vet at Ark Vets in Gallway said: “The launch of the Irish specific map is a great initiative. It will help vets determine whether cases have been reported in their area so they can easily communicate the need for preventative treatment of lungworm to their clients. It hits home that the lungworm parasite is here in Ireland and needs to be acted upon.”
Vets across the country are being asked to add cases of lungworm to the map so that a picture of