Aug 21 2013

Strange parasite burrows out of a kitten’s face

cat

This is L.B.  He came to us off the street looking good but a little out of it.  We checked him over and everything looked ok, other than a wound on the side of his face.

wormcat

We took good care of him, but he still seemed a little off.  One morning we took a look in his food dish and this is what we found (not the thumb).

worm

This parasite came out of the wound in the kitten’s face and fell in the food bowl overnight.

Called a cuterebra larvae (or sometimes a wolfworm), these guys infect the skin of small mammals and later become flies.

Here is how cats (and rabbits and rodents) get infected:

The adult fly lays an egg around the living area of the host.  The larva then crawls onto the animals skin and burrows underneath it.  After it moves to its favorite location, it pokes a hole in the skin for a breathing hole.  After it grows enough, it leaves the animal by the breathing hole and pupates on the ground.  Occasionally, these larva can migrate through neurological tissues and can cause some problems, and more commonly the opening in the skin becomes infected.  Usually though, these guys just make everyone think they are gross.

L.B. is fine now.  He is more playful and seems like a nice, quiet kitten.  You can adopt him if you like and tell everyone his crazy story!

– Doc Cleland

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