Lungworm disease of cattle

Material Information

Lungworm disease of cattle
Alternate title:
Veterinary Science mimeograph series - University of Florida ; 55-1
Swanson, Leonard E., b. 1898
Dennis, Walter R.
Stone, William M.
University of Florida -- Agricultural Experiment Station
Place of Publication:
Gainesville, Fla.
University of Florida, Agricultural Experiment Stations
Publication Date:
Copyright Date:
Physical Description:
5 leaves : ; 28 cm.


Subjects / Keywords:
Cattle -- Diseases and pests -- Florida ( lcsh )
Lungworms -- Florida ( lcsh )
Calves ( jstor )
Larvae ( jstor )
Worms ( jstor )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent) ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )


General Note:
Caption title.
General Note:
"July, 1954."
Statement of Responsibility:
by Leonard E. Swanson, Walter R. Dennis and William M. Stone, Jr.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
433106072 ( oclc )


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SEP 14 154'
Veterinary Science Mimeograph July, 195l
Series No. $5-1




Leonard E. Swanson, Walter R. Dennis and William M. Stone, Jr.

Lungworm disease of cattle is caused by a long, thin, white worm,

technically known as Dictyocaulus viviparus. The life cycle is direct,

no intermediate host is required. The larvae are passed from the

animal in the feces and become infective to calves or adult animals on

the fourth day. This parasitic disease is very prevalent throughout

Florida, especially where calves and older cattle have access to muck

lands, wet areas, deep shade, swamps, or drainages from barns or corrals.

In the areas mentioned above it is nearly impossible to raise replacement

dairy heifers. Beef calves from four months to yearlings suffer from the

ravages of this parasite. Many dairymen have lost their entire calf crop,

and beefmen have lost up to 30 percent of their calf crop. The biggest

loss, however, is not in the actual deaths but rather stunting the growth

of recovered animals.


Usually the owners will report that they weaned the best crop of

calves and all of a sudden the animals begin to go off feed and lose

weight. The calves will stand out from the herd. Coughing is very

prevalent, especially if excited. The bowel passages may be normal or

the animal may be constipated, and many will show diarrhea. The mouth is

held open with a pronounced abdominal type breathing. Occasionally a

calf will be seen with the tongue protruding, ears drooping, and eyes glassy.

A frothy creamy colored mucous will be noted running from the nostrils

or mouth and the infected calf continually licking its nose. When the

animal becomes too weak to eat or stand it goes down and dies in a

semi-coma stage, usually without a struggle.


The blood is dark red. There is bilateral pleurisy (inflammation of

chest cavity), with straw colored fluids in the thoracic and abdominal

cavities. The entire carcass is emaciated, showing edematous infiltration

of the lymph glands, mesentery, momentum, heart and kidneys. The trachea and

bronchial tubes are filled with a yellowish-white frothy exudate mixed with

adult worms, embryonated ova and larvae. The bronchial lymph glands are

extremely large and gelatinous in appearance. There is heavy congestion

of the lung tissue with marked lobar pneumonia. The bronchioles and

trachea may be reddish in color but usually are clear. No pus has been

observed in these pneumonia cases having lungworms.

Death is a result of suffocation, lack of oxidation of the blood and

verminous pneumonia.


Naturally infected calves placed in concrete pens will be free of

lungworm larvae in from 69 to 180 days, depending upon the severity of

infection. Adult bulls and cows, when exposed to infected areas, will

carry light loads, constantly reinfecting the premises, yet they will

show no symptoms of the disease.

The larvae are recovered from the feces by means of a Baerman

apparatus. Lungworm larvae in fecal samples varies from 1 to 6,084

per gram feces depending upon the severity of the infection. Four day

old larvae given to parasite-free calves by mouth were able to establish

themselves in the lungs, and larvae were recovered in the feces of

experimentally infected animals in from 18 to 33 days. Embryonated

ova are found in the bronchiole, whereas free larvae are found in the

trachea, stomach and small and large intestines. The larger numbers of

larvae are found in the caecum and rectum. The highest daily output

(24 hours) of larva from any one calf on test was 18,900, however,

calves with much greater numbers of larvae in the feces died before

a 24 hour check could be obtained.


The lung worms of cattle are direct infectors, the adult Worms

live in the bronchioles and trachea of the animal, male and females

mate, the female lays her eggs which contain a larvae. The eggs hatch

in the trachea and/or digestive tract of the host. Those larvae or eggs

which are coughed up are swallowed, pass on out the animal with the

ingesta to the ground. Upon reaching the ground in feces and in the

presence of moisture, these larvae develop into infectious larval stages

in four to seven days. The infective larvae crawl upon blades of grass

where they are eaten by grazing animals. Their journey through the host

body has not been worked up, however, they reach the lungs and are

producing eggs within 18 to 33 days after taken into the body of the

host. They are probably carried from the stomach or small intestine

by the blood stream to the lungs.


All calves observed with natural infections of lungworms were also

carrying heavy burdens of stomach and intestinal parasites. A typical


parasite infection found on necropsy is as follows:

Number Location Kind

200 Stomach Haemonchus contortus Wireworms
8,600 Stomach Ostertagia ostertagi Threadworms
2,h00 Stomach Trichostrongylus axei Bankrupt worms
10,,00 Small Intestine Strongyloides spp. Microscopic worms
53,900 Small Intestine Cooperia spp. Threadworms
100 Small Intestine Buonostomum phlebotomum Hookworms
787 Large Intestine Oesophagostomum radiatum Nodular woTms
61 Large Intestine Trichuris discolor Whipworns
5,389 Bronchial tubes Dictyocaulus viviparus Lungworms

Other calves had like infections, although many were more fortunate

and carried only light infections of the stomach and intestinal parasites.


One hears many suggestions and sees few writings on the control of

lungworms in calves. Good feeds, protection from adverse weather con-

ditions, and removing animals from low, wet, shady places are recommended.

Good management practices are:

1. Creep feed the calves during their nursing or milk feeding

period to promote growth and to prevent the shock from sudden

change of feeds.

2. Rotate pastures frequently and do not allow animals to crop

grasses too close to the earth.

3. Use heavy muck lands and deep shaded areas for fattening

older cattle intended for slaughter.

U. Place dairy calves above barns or older cattle yards and

on well drained areas.

$. Segregate age and sex groups.

6. Remove visibly sick animals from the herd.

7. Infected calves should be placed on high, dry areas, given

free access to good hay, concentrates and minerals, and if

available, citrus or sugar cane molasses. All feeding should

be done from racks or bunkers. DO NOT FEED ON GROUND. Always

have your calves checked for parasites, especially stomach and


8. Treat all infected calves with the proper dosage of phenothia-

zine, small doses should be given extremely weak animals the

first time, and repeat the dosage in 21 days, using therapeutic

schedule on package. If necessary, continue the dosing every

21 days until stomach and intestinal parasites are reduced and

calves show improvement. This method will eliminate most of the

parasites, giving the calf an opportunity to throw off the lung-

worm infections. If calves are not treated and properly fed as

outlined, they will die from parasite infections.


All attempts to remove these worms from the lungs of calves have

failed. Various drugs administered directly into the lungs by inhalation,

hypodermically or by mouth are ineffective.

Experiments are in progress studying the life history and means of

destroying the adult parasites in the lungs, the larvae in the feces

and/or on pastures.