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 #14406


Olivia
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 Pinworms - To treat or not to treat?

Hi everyone. I’m new to this forum. :)

My question is about pinworms. I have three adult leopard geckos that’ve been confirmed to have pinworms. However, these leos are perfectly healthy. No problems with weight gain, appetite, or anything. I’m trying to decide if I should go ahead and treat them for the pinworms or go by the "don’t fix it if it’s not broken" method.

My vet has already given me some Pyrantel Pamoate for them if I decide to treat them.


11/19/03  12:31am
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 #14412


Loki
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  Message To: Olivia   In reference to Message Id: 14406


 Pinworms - To treat or not to treat?

to be on the safe side i would go ahead and treat, a lot of wild animals have parasites that dont affect them, but in a closed space the worms can multiply to beyond wat the animal can take


11/19/03  12:41am
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 #14418


Pe
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  Message To: Olivia   In reference to Message Id: 14406


 Pinworms - To treat or not to treat?

I would definately treat them before it has the chance to get out of control.

PE


11/19/03  1:01am
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 #14465


Eyespy
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  Message To: Pe   In reference to Message Id: 14418


 Pinworms - To treat or not to treat?

I agree. Otherwise every poop they make can reinfect them until the pinworm population in their guts gets out of control.


11/19/03  10:53am
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 #14595


Olivia
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  Message To: Eyespy   In reference to Message Id: 14465


 Pinworms - To treat or not to treat?

How often do pinworms get out of control though? I was under the impression that they’re pretty common.


11/20/03  2:42am
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 #14607


Eyespy
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  Message To: Olivia   In reference to Message Id: 14595


 Pinworms - To treat or not to treat?

Yes they are common, and commonly cause intestinal bleeding. They get out of control quite often and can be fatal.


11/20/03  8:21am
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 #14731


Sotik
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  Message To: Eyespy   In reference to Message Id: 14607


 Pinworms - To treat or not to treat?

Yes, they are common. But if they get to that point, you’re already doing something quite wrong (malnourishment, likely).

It shouldn’t be a major problem for a healthy pet - even in captivity.


11/21/03  3:26am
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 #14734


Eyespy
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  Message To: Sotik   In reference to Message Id: 14731


 Pinworms - To treat or not to treat?

I strongly disagree with that, Sotik. I worked with vets since 1985 and have seen many, many reptiles that had severe pinworm infestations that were otherwise healthy. It is more often the pinworms causing malnutrition by eating food in the digestive tract than malnutrition causing a severe infestation.

Captivity by its nature causes parasites to multiply more quickly than in nature because animals are confined to a small space where they cannot walk away from their own feces so reinfection occurs at a much higher rate than in nature. See the book "Understanding Reptile Parasites" by Roger Klingenburg for more info if the subject interests you. It’s a pretty good read.


11/21/03  7:16am
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 #14768


Sotik
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  Message To: Eyespy   In reference to Message Id: 14734


 Pinworms - To treat or not to treat?

Pinworms are the most common worms found in reptiles...in fact, there are some 150 reptile-specific pinworms. They are quite common in wild repitles but but typically don’t build up to high enough levels to cause problems. Captive reptiles can re-infect themselves over and over, but they have to come in contact with their infected feces or have their infected feces come in contact with their food or water source. Pinworms live in the rectal region and cause problems by producing inpacted feces and an irritated lower intestinal tract - intestinal bleeding is quite uncommon. In general, for a normal healthy reptile they are not a dangerous problem -- you’ll naturally thin them out and eventually rid your geckos of them by promptly removing their feces (removing the source of infection), keeping a warm tank temperature (keep their digestion up and the worms have little chance to build), and disinfecting the tank regularly to be safe (getting rid of any possible attached eggs). Anyone who does that - and I know Olivia definitely does - will not have problems.

If you don’t do that, then the worms can become a problem. Loss of appetite, loss of weight, diarrhea (or frequently loose bowel movements that contain large amounts mucus), and general lethargy are symptoms you’ve done something something wrong to allow those worm levels to build high enough to cause something like an impaction. Reptile de-worming medicine is simply adapted from de-wormers from other animal species (like horses, which you may notice is a sizable difference in mass, not to mention internal functioning)...they should be a last resort as there is no guarantee of safety. It’s much safer to use something that contains black walnut or wormwood..they’re natural de-wormers and a bit safer. Using chemicallly-available de-wormers is a bit drastic unless the geckos are already hevily-infected - low levels of most parasites needn’t be treated with something so harsh. Also, the constant over-use is going to result in the parasites becoiming more resistant to the chemicals, meaning dosage levels will eventually have to increase, also increasing the potential harm to your gecko. Pinworm presence in a gecko (or any reptile for that matter) is commensal - no problems will arise if you keep the enclosure clean and no de-wormers need be used unless the symptoms listed above develop. Someone who worked with a vet since 1985 should know this.

I hate to come off sounding like an bozo, but what you are telling her was quite innacurate.


11/21/03  2:08pm
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 #14769


Eyespy
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  Message To: Sotik   In reference to Message Id: 14768


 Pinworms - To treat or not to treat?

We’ve gotten much better longevity results from treating than ignoring pinworms at Penn. Most pinworm species are much larger than the white blood cells and other immune system agents so no matter how strong a reptile’s immune system it’s not usually enough to kill off a colony of pinworms.

We do not find that intestinal bleeding is uncommon, a large percentage of fecal exams containing pinworm eggs also reveal occult blood in the samples. Vets who only do fecal floats don’t pick up on that, a smear is necessary to detect intestinal bleeding.

The vast majority of dewormers on the market impair carbohydrate metabolism which starves parasites without harming the digestion of carnivores so side effects are minimal to leopard geckos and other insectivores. Were it an antiflagellate or protozoal med I’d not be so hasty to say go ahead and treat, but praziquantal has never been known to cause resistance. Do you have any studies that show resistant pinworms?


11/21/03  2:23pm
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 #14789


Sotik
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  Message To: Eyespy   In reference to Message Id: 14769


 Pinworms - To treat or not to treat?

Ok, now I seriously have to question if you know what you’re talking about. To say that pinworms are larger than the white blood cells is entirely irrelvant - not all white blood cells work by engulfing foreign bacteria, viruses, and such. Eosinophils are the white blood cells (one of the 5 types) that are responsible for combatting infection and infestation of parasites, particularly in the intestines - they secrete histamines and other chemicals that are toxic to parasitic larvae...they don’t surround and absorb the problem, therefore pinworm size is entirely irrelevant.

Intestinal bleeding is not common. If it occurs it is because someone has not been taking are of their geckos and has allowed the worm levels to build. I said that at least 3 times in my previous post - if you take care of your geckos you will not have a problem and the parasite count will eventually fall to nonexistant.

All commercial anthelmintics are known not to be safe for the host tissue (yes, it harms the host, not just the worms). It does harm to the host. Further, resistance is known and verified in many commercial dewormers (panacur, for instance), which means a larger amount has to be used, which means more potential for injury.

Keeping the tank clean is THE MOST effective way of dealing with pinworms. I guarantee that if someone takes proper care of their gecko, pinworms will NEVER be a problem. The problems you experienced working with whatever vet you worked with were a result of poor maintenance on the owner’s part. Not a direct result of pinworms.


11/21/03  4:46pm
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 #14790


Olivia
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  Message To: Eyespy   In reference to Message Id: 14769


 Pinworms - To treat or not to treat?

Eyespy - Thanks for saying that pinworm treatment led to better cases of longevity. I will definitely treat my leos then. I only asked, because I’ve heard some people speculate that deworming lizards too much could actually be harming them more than helping, and pinworms just seemed to be one of the benign parasites that didn’t necessarily warrant treatment. I’ve had these leos for several months, and in that time, they’ve gained weight and improved their appearance (even color) very nicely. I know my vets did smears in addition to the floats, so I will ask if they did find any intestinal bleeding.

Sotik - I wasn’t sure if the immune system would get rid of the pinworms the same way it does with coccidia, because the reproduction of these parasites differs. I also don’t agree with the fact that symptoms appearing are a sign of poor husbandry. Other nematodes like hookworms will cause problems if left untreated no matter how clean you keep the tank. Moreover, waiting until the infestation is heavy only makes medication riskier when toxic shock syndrome or intestinal blockage become a possibility.


11/21/03  4:53pm
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 #14813


Sotik
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  Message To: Olivia   In reference to Message Id: 14790


 Pinworms - To treat or not to treat?

We are not talking about hookworms. We are talking about pinworms - they are a bit different.

In he instance of pinwomrs, proper tank hygiene will prevent it from ever reaching the point that medication need be administered.


11/21/03  5:35pm
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 #14904


Eyespy
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  Message To: Sotik   In reference to Message Id: 14813


 Pinworms - To treat or not to treat?

We see hundreds of cases every year of animals with large pinworm colonies in their small intestines that were kept in good condition. Simple bloodwork rules out most cases of suboptimal temperatures and malnutrition. Stool, blood and nasal swab cultures rule out hygiene problems from poop not being cleaned in a timely fashion. Even amongst cases of animals where these factors are ruled out, pinworms kill a fairly large number of captive reptiles.

We used to use Parazap to see how it worked and for awhile results looked promising. A 5 day course post-operatively prevented the parasite blooms so often seen in the fecal samples of animals that are stressed and sick. But early results didn’t hold up. Fecal exams were often clear or showed minimal parasites but mortality rates did not decrease, they went up by a large margin. Necropsy would show the parasites in the small intestines where laxatives such as black walnut are not at all effective.

We went back to using Panacur or praziquantal and mortality rates decreased again.

In almost 19 years working with herps I’ve seen 8 cases of antiparasitics accumulating in the liver and causing toxicity-related problems. In all of these cases, it was a paste formulation made for large animals that wasn’t properly dosed for small animals.


11/22/03  11:04am
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 #14921


Odiferus
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  Message To: Sotik   In reference to Message Id: 14768


 Pinworms - To treat or not to treat?

Stoik, I noticed in your post that you mentioned black walnut as a natural pinworm reducer/eliminator. Is this also true with the english walnut? I use that exclusivly as my substrate for all my reptiles, and am curious if this may be a good preventative maintanance.


11/22/03  1:18pm
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 #14961


Eyespy
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  Message To: Odiferus   In reference to Message Id: 14921


 Pinworms - To treat or not to treat?

Vets have been trying to get walnut substrates off the market for years. They don’t break down very well in the gut at all and have a toxin called juglone in them. English walnut has a higher toxicity rating than black walnut and can cause skin irritation and allergy. Horses and dogs are most sensitive to juglones but there are reports of reptiles getting skin and bowel inflammation from exposure to walnut, either substrates or lumber from their cages.


11/22/03  4:30pm
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 #15260


Olivia
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  Message To: Eyespy   In reference to Message Id: 14961


 Pinworms - To treat or not to treat?

Wow, you weren’t kidding about the pinworms. I just started medicating one of the leos yesterday, so she’s starting to shed the worms (blood and all) in her poop. I can actually see the worms--they’re huge! If I’d known my little girl had those inside of her, I would’ve treated her sooner.


11/24/03  12:14am
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