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Endoparasites - Bunostomum

Bunostomum phlebotomum: Cattle hookworm

General Description: Adults are 10 to 28mm long and have cutting plates in the mouth.

Life Cycle: The life cycle is the direct one typical of round-worms. Eggs in faeces hatch and become infective third-stage larvae in approximately 5 to 6 days. L3 larvae usually enter cattle by skin penetration. Circulation carries them to the lungs. They are then coughed up and swallowed, returning to the intestine to become adults. The prepatent period is approximately 52 to 56 days.

Location: Small intestine.

Geographical Distribution: Worldwide, especially in warm, moist climates.

Significance: Bunostomum phlebotomum may be a serious threat to cattle, especially in warm, moist areas. If heavily infected, animals, especially the young, grow poorly and will not thrive.

Effect on Host: Penetration of skin by larvae is irritating to the host; itching of the legs and feet results in cattle stamping their feet. Infective larvae may also irritate the stomach and intestine when ingested. Adult worms rupture vessels of the intestinal wall, releasing blood on which they feed. Continual loss of blood causes iron-deficiency anaemia, and oedema (bottle jaw) may follow. Bloody, tar-coloured diarrhoea may occur. Weight loss may also result.

Diagnostic Information: "Strongyle-type" eggs in faeces.

Control: Pasture management and treatment of cattle with an anthelmintic are primary. Removal of faeces from feeding or holding pens will reduce infection.

 
Bunostomum - adult, anterior end   Hookworms attached to surface of small intestine

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