Pesky Summertime Pests



Also called the Cuterebra, the botfly hangs out in grass, latching onto warm blooded animals that are passing through. Symptoms of botfly infection include seizures, aggression, blindness, and warbles (or lumps) in the skin where the botfly has taken up residence. In cats, the cuterebra larva typically travels to the brain.


Sarcoptes Scabiei Mite 

Most prevalent in the summer months, the condition caused by this mite, also referred to as scabies or mange, is more of a nuisance than a danger. Of course, any condition that results in open wounds is dangerous because it opens the body to bacterial invasion. The most common risk of exposure comes from contact with other animals and outdoor activities. Treatment is the same as treating for fleas, but more aggressive, with quarantining, and thorough baths.


Aquatic and Fungal Parasites 

At some point in the summer, it gets too hot to do anything but find a body of water to cool the body in. While we would never dissuade you from doing that, we do want you to be an informed swimmer. One type of waterborne parasite, the Heterobilharzia americanum, a flatworm, uses water snails as their intermediate hosts until they are big enough to go out in search of a larger, warmer blooded host. Symptoms can range from relatively mild, like diarrhea and itching, to severe organ and intestinal damage. This is most common in southern waters, and is most likely to affect sporting dogs that fetch game in wet and wooded areas, but it can infect anyone who swims in waters that are contaminated with this parasite. Another type of parasitic bacteria that is picked up in wet, subtropical areas is the Leptospira interrogans, a corkscrew shaped bacteria that burrows into the skin and spreads through the bloodstream.


On the other side of the country, where the climate is drier, the Coccidioides immitis is the culprit for a host of nasty conditions. Fungal spores that behave like parasites, they are spread when the dirt they live in is disturbed by rain or digging, and the wind picks them up to disperse them. They are then inhaled or ingested. Diseases that result from this infection include San Joaquin Valley Fever, California Fever, cocci, and desert fever. And last, but not even close to least, is the Aspergillus mold, an opportunistic mold that grows in grass clippings and dust. Like the cocci fungus, it also enters through the nasal passages.


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Hopefully, this has not scared you into another "stay-cation" this summer. We wouldn't want you and your pets to stay cooped up for fear of what is out there. With some vigilance and planning, you will find the end of summer coming much too soon again, and we will be here, to help you prepare for the fun of the fall season.


Image: ubephot / via Flickr