Lung worms – Serratospiculum spp.

Serratospiculum spp. (lung worms) is an internal parasite that can reach up to 20cm in length. These worms infect falcon’s species like the Gyr, Saker and Peregrine, in addition to hawks, eagles and owls. The infection by these types of worms is common in falcons and most affect the air sacs. We believe that the beetle plays an active role in transporting lung worms to the falcon when ingested by it.

Ways of infection by lung worms

  1. Falcons feeding on beetles carrying this parasite
    2.    The use of contaminated equipments mostly containing eggs of these parasites

Symptoms
1.    Difficulty in breathing

  1. Inability to fly
    3.    Reduced stamina
    4.    Inability to fly long distances
    5.    Sneezing and coughing

Symptoms are similar to symptoms shown in other diseases;

  • Aspergillosis
  • Air sac infection
  • Lung infection

Diagnosis
1.    The physical symptoms shown by the affected falcons
2.    Direct microscopic examination of the faeces
3.    Endoscopy Treatment

There are different types of anti-parasitic medicines for treatment for this kind of worms; among them are Ivermectin, Doramectin and Moxidectin. Worms can also be removed by endoscopy after 3-5 days from starting treatment.

However, in some do not recommend the removal of the worms by endoscopy because of the following;

  • This manoeuvre has been criticized by some because the worms will be disintegrated and absorbed by the body after a few weeks from the start of the treatment.
  • In some cases, the worms will be covered by a huge number of capillaries that can lead to internal bleeding if removed by endoscopy.

Prevention and control
1.    Make sure birds used to feed the falcons are healthy
2.    Not allowing any insects that may be carrying the parasite to enter the cages or rooms where the falcon is being kept.
3.    Do not use contaminated equipment
4.    Regular examination of the falcon faeces.

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