What better way to introduce a new blog than a Wormy Wednesday?! Here's how it works: on a Wednesday such as today, I discuss a parasite of veterinary importance. That's pretty much it. But sometimes we all might learn something. Or at least see a weird picture or two.
The barber pole worm - named due to its red and white stripes.
This week, let's start with something basic. I introduce to you (drum roll please....) the barber pole worm (Haemonchus contortus). This is the bane of sheep and goats worldwide. A gastrointestinal parasite, this type of roundworm (or, as the cool kids call them, nematode) predominately resides in the abomasum (the fourth and "true" gastric stomach of the four-stomached ruminants) of sheep and goats, where it latches onto the mucosa and feeds on the delicate inner lining, ingesting blood and protein-rich tissue. Severely affected animals lose such much blood that they become anemic and lose so much protein that extracellular fluid leaks from the blood vessels and into the surrounding tissue, causing edema. Due to the position of the head while grazing, commonly this edema accumulates around the jaw, resulting in what is referred to as "bottle jaw".
Treatment involves administration of an appropriate dewormer. Animals with severe anemia may require some extra TLC which sometimes includes extra nutrition and occasionally a blood transfusion.