Cylicospirura felineus

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Cylicospirura felineus (Chandler, 1925) Sandground, 1932

ETYMOLOGY:Spiro = coiled and cerca = tail, along with felineus for cat.

SYNONYMS: Spirocercafelineus Chandler, 1925

HISTORY: This worm was first described as Spirocercafelineus by Chandler in 1925 based on specimens he recovered from purulent cysts in the stomach wall of about 5 of 250 cats that he examined in Calculta, India. In 1922, Sandground redescribed the species using specimens recovered from a Bengal tiger, and transferred felineus to the genus Cylicospirura.

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATION:Cylicospirurafelineus has been described from cats in India (Chandler, 1925) and from cats in Australia and surrounding regions. Gill (1972) found this worm in the stomachs of 3 of 88 cats from New Delhi, India. Pavlov and Howell (1977) reported 4% of 100 cats in Canberra were infected with Cylicospiriruafelineus. Coman et al. (1981) reported that around 27% of 327 cats in Victoria and Western New South Wales were infected with either Cylicospirurafelineus , Cyathospiruradasyuridis, or both parasites. Gregory and Munday (1976) reported that 57% of 86 cats from the Tasmanian Midlands were infected with either Cylicospirurafelineus, Cyathospiruradasyuridis, or both parasites, and that 9 of 21 cats from King Island were infected with Cylicospirurafelineus. Interestingly, Pence et al. (1978) examined parasites from Texas bobcats and Canadian Lynx from Alberta, Canada, and found that these hosts were infected with Cylicospirurafelineus.

LOCATION IN HOST: Chandler described the worms as being present in purulent cysts in the stomach wall. Gregory and Munday (1976) reported that nodules in the stomach wall contained the two species of spiruroid nematodes in about equal numbers. The Cylicospirurafelineus were typically held firmly by the fibrous tissue of the nodule while the Cyathospiruradasyuridis were free within the stomach or within the nodules. Coman et al (1981) report that Cylicospirurafelineus usually were found within nodules in the pyloric region. Pence et al. (1978) stated that the stomachs of bobcats often contained mixed infections of Cylicospirurafelineus and Cyathospirurachevreuxi. In the bobcats, the Cylicospiruruafelineus always appeared associated with enlarged granulomas in the pyloric stomach, while Cyathospirurachevreuxi appeared to be a lumen dweller that sometimes secondarily invaded the lesions produced by Cylicospirurafelineus.

PARASITE IDENTIFICATION: These are bright or blood red worms that reach a lenght of 30 mm (females) and 22 mm (males). The left spicule of the male is about 2 mm long, the right spicule is about 0.5 mm long. The buccal cavity is well developed and contains six longitudinal supporting ribs that end anteriorly in trifid projections. In the case of Cylicospirurasubaequalis, the longitudinal ribs of the buccal cavity end in bifid knobs, and in the case of Cylicospiruraadvena, the projections end in a single knob.

The vulva is located anterior to the esophageal intestinal junction. The egg ios thick shelled and contained a well-developed larva. The eggs are 29 μm to 38μm long and 13 μm to 22 μm wide.

LIFE CYCLE: There has been no work on the life cycle of this genus of parasites. It is likely that the intermediate host is some form of beetle and that cats become infected by eating the beetle or some vertebrate paratenic host.

CLINICAL PRESENTATION AND PATHOGENESIS: There have been no reports on the clinical signs observed in infected cats. Chandler (1925) noted that the worms were in purulent cysts in the stomach wall. Gregory and Munday (1976) found that the lesions in cats in Tasmania were fibrous and nonpurulent.

Pence et al. (1978) described the lesions observed in bobcats and lynx in some detail. The cystic granulaomas in the stomach wall measured from a few mm in size to 3 cm. Each cyst contained from 1 to 45 worms. Usually, each cyst had a small orifice from which the posterior ends of worms extended. All granulomas of 1.5 cm diameter or greater were located in the pyloric region of the stomach. The tumors were most abundant on the side of greater curvature and only rarely seen on the side of lesser curvature. Small lesions in the fundus were observed that were filled with a firm yellowish necrotic material indicative of caseous necrosis, but these lesions never contained worms. The mucosal surface of the larger lesions was normal except for the orifice from which the worms protruded. Usually, the muscularis externa and the serosal surface was normal and the granulomas were hardly discernable from the serosal aspect. However, in two cases, pedunculate nodular lesions, about 1 cm in diameter, protruded from the serosal wall of the pyloric region. These pedunculate lesions contained worms.

TREATMENT: There has been no attempt to treat infections with this parasites.

EPIZOOTIOLOGY: It would appear that cats in Australia may be the natural host of this parasite, but it is also possible that dingoes, dogs, or foxes may also be serving as hosts in the wild. The fact that the cat was relatively recently introduced into Australia and Tasmania would indicate that either the cat is an accidental host or that the parasite was introduce with the cat and found adequate intermediate hosts for the successful completion of the life cycle. Interestingly, there has only been one other report from India (Gill, 1972), although a different species of Cylicospirura, Cylicospirurasubaequalis, has been reported from India.

HAZARDS TO OTHER ANIMALS: There would be no direct transmission to other animals. It is very unclear what the impact, if any, this feline parasite might have on the indigenous animals in Australia.

HAZARD TO HUMANS: There are no known infections of humans.

CONTROL/PREVENTION: Control would involve preventing cats from hunting.


Chandler AC. 1925. The helminthic parasites of cats in Calcutta and the relation of cats to human helminthic infections. Ind J Med Res 13:213-228, plates 2 & 3..

Coman BJ, Jones EH, Driessen MA. 1981. Helminth parasites and arthropods of feral cats. Aust Vet J 57:324-327.

Gill HS. 1972. Incidence of gastro-intestinal helminths in cat (Feliscatus) in Delhi. J Comm Dis 4:109-111.

Gregory GG, Munday BL. 1976. Intyernal parasites of feral cats from the Tasmanian Midlands and King Island. Aust Vet J. 52:317-320.

Pavlov PM, Howell MJ. 1977. Helminth parasites of Canberra cats. Aust Vet J 53:599-600.

Pence DB, Samoil HP, Stone JE. 1978. Spirocercid stomach worms (Nematoda: Spirocercidae) from wild felids in North America. Can J. Zool 56:1032-1042.

Sandground JH. 1932. Report on the nematode parasites collected by the Kelley-Roosevelts expedition to Indo-China with descriptions of several new species. Par 1. Parasites of Birds. Part 2. Parasites of Mammals. Z Parasitenk 5:542-583.

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