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This is a dangerous condition that is seen most often on the west coast of North America where the original host, the oxytrema silicula (snail), is found. The salmon or trout eat this snail and then the fluke lives in the fish until your dog eats it and its eggs. Once the eggs get to your dog’s stomach, they will hatch and feed on the internal tissue of the intestines and stomach.
Although it is not very contagious, these fluke eggs can be transmitted to other dogs in their feces. If your dog just has elokomin fluke fever that does not progress to salmon poisoning disease, the symptoms may not be as severe but will eventually cause dehydration and an electrolyte imbalance, which is what causes death in the majority of cases.
Elokomin fluke fever in dogs is a disease usually accompanied by salmon poisoning disease, which is caused by the bacteria, Neorickettsia helminthoeca and Neorickettsia elokominica. This is transmitted by a fluke or flat worm in raw salmon or trout. When your dog eats raw salmon or trout that is infected with Neorickettsia helminthoeca and Neorickettsia elokominica, the cysts (eggs) are transferred to your dog’s stomach, where they grow and cause a severe intestinal infection.
About one week to a month after your dog eats the infected fish, she will have a high fever for a few days. Then, she will become severely lethargic and depressed with a complete loss of appetite. After this, your dog will have vomiting and bloody diarrhea bad enough to cause rapid dehydration. Also, weight loss, runny eyes and nose, and swollen lymph nodes will appear and if you do not get veterinary care for your dog immediately, the disease is fatal. The mortality rate for this disease is 90% if not treated right away.
The severity of the symptoms vary depending on whether your dog has both Elokomin fluke fever and salmon poisoning or just Elokomin fluke fever.
Salmon poisoning disease
is caused by Neorickettsia helminthoeca and is the more severe condition that causes rapid dehydration from severe diarrhea and vomiting.
Elokomin fluke fever
is caused by both Neorickettsia helminthoeca and Neorickettsia elokominica. It usually does not cause as much vomiting and diarrhea as salmon poisoning right away but will eventually cause dehydration as well.
Your dog can get elokomin fluke fever from eating raw fish infected with the elokomin fluke from an infected snail.
The veterinarian will first do a complete physical of your dog to assess her general health. For a definitive diagnosis, your veterinary care provider will need to do a fecal examination. The fluke ova can be found in the feces in over 90% of cases. These ova are tiny yellowish ovals with a blunt point on the end. If that test is negative, your veterinarian will need to get a biopsy of the lymph nodes to do a Romanowsky staining. In addition, your veterinarian may conduct a PCR test for an accurate diagnosis if needed.
The treatment has to be done right away to be effective. Of course, the best treatment is preventing your dog from eating uncooked trout or salmon. There are medications that your veterinary care provider can use to rid your dog of the fluke but supportive treatment is needed first, to prevent death from dehydration.
The veterinarian will give your dog parenteral oxytetracycline (10mg/kg) intravenously (IV) along with fluids and electrolytes. This will help reduce dehydration and correct the electrolyte balance.
If your dog is having trouble breathing, oxygen will be given via mask or cannula. The veterinarian may decide to hospitalize your dog during treatment for observation.
Your veterinarian will most likely give your dog anti-emetics to stop the vomiting, doxycycline (10 mg/kg, bid for 7 days), and praziquantel to eliminate fluke infection.
The veterinarian will probably want to keep your dog in the hospital for observation and to provide supportive care when needed. Blood transfusions, fluids, and oxygen will be administered as needed.
The prognosis for Elokomin fluke fever and salmon poisoning is moderate to poor, depending on how bad the infection is and how fast your dog got treatment. If your dog did not get treatment within the first several days after the symptoms start, the only treatment your veterinary care provider can give is supportive treatment.
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