Warning: Dog-killing "liver fluke" parasite discovered in US for the first time

By Eric Ralls | Earth.com |

EARTH.COM - For the first time, scientists have confirmed the presence of a potentially fatal dog parasite, liver fluke, in a section of the Colorado River that traverses California. This revelation from scientists at UC Riverside has prompted urgent calls for public awareness due to the serious health risk it poses to pets.

Heterobilharzia americana, a flatworm commonly known as liver fluke, has made a surprising journey from its known habitat in Texas and other Gulf Coast states to the west. This marks the first instance of the parasite being identified so far from its original reported locations.

The liver fluke is the cause of canine schistosomiasis, a disease affecting dogs’ livers and intestines, which, if left untreated, can lead to death.

“Dogs can die from this infection, so we are hoping to raise public awareness that it’s there,” said UCR nematology professor Adler Dillman. “If you’re swimming in the Colorado River with them, your pets are in peril.”

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