DIAGNOSIS OF WORM INFESTATION:
You will need a basic microscope magnification x 400 is sufficient, some slides and coverslips. The simplest method is perfectly adequate to check if worms are present, and that is called the Direct Smear method. You take a tiny bit of faeces, preferably that is green, runny or otherwise unhealthy looking, put it onto the slide with one drop of tap water and smear it to the size of a cover slip with the flat blade of a knife or wooden spatula, cover with the cover slip and examine under the microscope.
The following are the worms hedgehogs can suffer from, those mentioned in the next paragraph are pretty universal and you will find that most of the hedgehogs you look after will have at least a few of these worms.
LUNGWORM AND INTESTINAL NEMATODES:
Hedgehogs suffer from two types of lungworm: Crenosoma striatum (which sheds larvae) and Capillaria aerophila (with large oval eggs) which can cause respiratory problems, coughing, wheezing, "groffling" a rattling noise they make, these problems can lead to pneumonia.Basically if you see any sort of larva wriggling about it is almost certainly going to be Crenosoma, unless the hog has just been admitted and it is another sort of strongyle from the soil which will do no harm and after a few days in care you will not see it again.
INTESTINAL TREMATODE OR FLUKE
This picture is misleading if you compare its size to that of the Capillaria eggs above, fluke eggs are very much smaller than Capillaria eggs and much harder to see. These eggs only have one plug, Capillaria have a plug at either end.
You may find that hedgehogs in your area also suffer from hedgehog fluke or Brachylaemus erinacei, this can be lethal, especially in young hedgehogs. If the worms reach the bile ducts, the hedgehog will die. The eggs are small, clear,oval an a peachy/orange colour and are difficult to see under a microscope. However, the symptoms are very clear and you should treat on symptoms alone even if you never find an egg! These are: a pronounced lack of appetite, even if you try to hand-feed with a syringe the hog will turns its head away, restlessness and hyperactivity, sufferers climb the mesh on a hutch door, dig at the newspaper and march up and down incessantly. Their droppings can be very smelly and often runny yellowish/brown possibly with blood. You will get to recognise the very distinctive smell of this diarrhoea!
THORNY HEADED WORM OR ACANTHOCEPHALA
This worm has been found in hedgehogs at post mortem examination and in their droppings in life. It is meant to be rare and you may never see one. It can be lethal to young hedgehogs as it can migrate all over the body cavity and burrow through the hedgehog's gut wall twice. You may see the worm with the naked eye in faeces, it is long, white and grass seed shaped, with a "thorny head" which can be examined under the microscope, the rest of the body is too opaque to be examined in detail. Adult hedgehogs seem to pass these worms with few adverse effects.
But youngsters, if heavily infested are emaciated and in very poor condition, they squeal a lot and often die. We assume that the action of the worm burrowing through their gut wall would be extremely painful. We have used Droncit to treat this worm(see the dose rates for hedgehog fluke below). We have never found eggs or juvenile stages of this worm in faeces and so the only sure diagnosis in life is to find an adult worm in the droppings. Other carers use Levamisole or Telmin to treat it. A Professor in Germany wrote that there is no point in treating it at all because it is either in the gut and about to be passed out or in the body cavity where no wormer can reach it. So you can take your pick! We are not even sure it is a true hedgehog parasite, it is definitely a parasite of birds.
INTESTINAL PROTOZOA - COCCIDIA
This is the basic treatment given to most weaned hedgehogs, hoglets under 6 weeks' of age should not need worming. (You may find exceptions to this rule as we think babies may be infected via their mothers, either in the womb or when feeding). All injections are given subcutaneously. We do not worm routinely, but in practice most hedgehogs will be wormed at some point during their stay, possibly several times, accordingly to severity of infestation. Do not give Levamisole to pregnant females, it can cause miscarriage, which means take care with any adult female from May - October, only worm her if the worm burden is causing her problems. Droncit is safe for all hogs.
For Crenosoma and Capillaria (all 3 forms) give an injection of Levamisole (Levacide) once a day for 3 days (Day 1 to day 3) repeat after 10 days. Do not inject near the head.
Levacide comes at 7.5% it is recommended that you dilute it with sterile water to at least 3%.
We dilute it 1:3 to 1.875% and give at a rate of 1.4ml per kg b/w ie at 26.25 mg/kg. Some rescues do not dilute Levamisole but hogs do react and it does seem to sting when given at full strength. Even though the amount of liquid given in each injection below seems quite high, they seem to tolerate it well at this strength and volume.
In practice doses are rounded up/down here are some examples:
100g hog will get 0.15ml at 1.875% 600g hog will get 0.85ml at 1.875%
200g hog will get 0.3ml at 1.875% 700g hog will get 1ml at 1.875%
300g hog will get 0.4ml at 1.875% 800g hog will get 1.12ml at 1.875%
400g hog will get 0.55ml at 1.875% 900g hog will get 1.25ml 1.875%
500g hog will get 0.7ml at 1.875% 1kg hog will get 1.4ml at 1.875%
For Capillaria give 3 injections of Ivomec Super (which also has a flukicide in it) one week apart at a rate of 0.4ml per kg ie 0.04ml per 100g bodyweight.
We also use Mebendazole for Capillaria,Telmin is no longer available - we are using Ovex a human wormer available from your chemist in either tablet form or a liquid suspension. The dose is the same for both 100mg/kg for at least 5 nights some people go on for 7 nights. The tablets are 100mg so the same as the old Telmin KH tablets we used 20 years ago! so easy to remember the dose for me - probably not if you are younger than me which will be everyone!!
1/8 tablet under 200g b/w
1/4 tablet 200g-500g b/w
1/2 tablet 500g-1kg b/w
1 tablet if over 1 kg b/w
give for 5 consecutive days per course of treatment. Can be repeated after 10 days. Tablet can be crushed and put into small amount of food. Liquid Ovex is probably best syringed into the mouth. The amount will be quite large 5ml/kg.
Brachylaemus erinacei (hedgehog fluke) is treated with
Droncit :tablets: Doses: under 200g b/w 1/8 tablet
200g-500g b/w 1/4 tablet ,
500g - 1kg b/w 1/2 tablet
One dose is meant to be enough, but sometimes you will need more, I have given it 3 or 4 times but never less than 48hrs apart. Give at once if hogs get active or dig like mad.
We use crushed tablet on food or in glop if the hoglet is young enough to still take feed from a syringe.
I am using Droncit Spot on which some carers find doesn't work. Vale Wildlife Hospital use Profender at 0.5ml per 1kg repeated each week for 3 weeks.
I am using Droncit spot on :
20mg Praziquantel per pipette:
1 pipette for 500g hogs
1/2 pipette for 200-500g hogs
1/4 pipette for under 200g hogs.
Apply to fur on underside where it is sparse and you can see the skin, not on the back between the spines, it will absorb better here. If you don't need a whole pipette either extract with syringe and needle (I found this difficult!) or squeeze whole pipette into airtight phial or bottle and extract what you need with syringe. If you put the lid on the bottle securely what is left seems not to evaporate!
ANTIBIOTIC COVER is given to prevent secondary infections, this is vital in cases of severe worm infestation. As a general rule we give we give Norodine 24 for 5-8 days at a dose rate of 0.05ml per 100g or 0.5ml/kg. Probiotic powder on food or in hand-feeds may also be effective. For acute diarrhoea - give Buscopan at a maximum rate of 8hrly intervals ie 3x per day. This will usually only be needed for 2-3 days at most. Dose 0.05ml under 200g and 0.1ml over 200g . Use with Norodine, fluid therapy, wormers and probiotic powde. If the hog has not got diarrhoea and is snuffly or a bit chesty we use Engemycin 5% (Engemycin is now only available at 10% so you need to dilute 50:50 with sterile water - only dilute a bit at a time as it goes dark in colour keep away from daylight) for 5 days at a dose rate of 0.2ml/100g b/w unless the hedgehog has diarrhoea when we use Norodine 24 see above.
Respiratory problems are also treated with Bisolvon powder (1 pinch) on food Synulox has been found to be an effective antibiotic for chest infections dose 0.1ml/100g b/w.Dexamethazone can also be effective 0.1ml for hogs over 200g and 0.05ml under 200g for 5 days. We are also usilng a nebuliser now for chesty hogs. Engemycin 5% (0.1 ml/100g b/w) is given after the course of Synulox if necessary.
COCCIDIOSIS is treated with Sulphadimadine - Norodine 24% given as follows over 15 days:
Give Norodine once a day for first five days and last five with a 5 day gap in the middle 0.5 ml/kg
Baycox liquid can also be given for Coccidia - I haven't found it to be easy to administer - messy and hard to give orally. Dose rate 0.4ml per kg repeated in 10 days.
Symptoms are dark green often runny or jelly-like droppings and possibly bright blood in them. Hogs are very active and dig like mad at newspaper and can lose appetite. I have found that their spines fall out as well sometimes. If they are inside, give them a paper sack full of hay as a bed, this often helps calm them down as it is a more natural bed than newspaper. Coccidia is often found in Spring and Autumn before and after hibernation. It can spread between them when hogs are kept together. A hedgehog can infect itself by taking in its own infected poo, so take extra care with hygiene, give clean bedding every day and disinfect pen or hutch every day.
WOUNDS: Unless superficial, hedgehogs are taken to the Vet but first aid includes injections of Synulox at a rate of 0.1ml/100g b/w and Rimadyl/Carprofen (0.05ml up to 200g b/w and 0.1ml if over 200g b/w).
A CD Rom of really clear parasite photos is available from Pro Igel for 15 Euros These are amazing photos taken by Dora Lambert who has done pioneering work in bringing photos of parasites to a wide audience.
taken from information provided by Dora Lambert of the Arbeitskreis Igelschutz Berlin e.V.
BRACHYLAEMUS : Development cycle of the intestinal fluke Brachylaemus Erinacei.
The eggs of the intestinal fluke Brachylaemus are eaten by snails where they develop into an infective stage. The hedgehog then eats the snail and gets infected. After 17 days the adult fluke sheds its eggs. Brachylaemus parasitises the small intestine but in severe cases can also be found in the bile ducts.
Threadworm eggs are shed in faeces. The infectious larval stage develops in the environment within 5-7 weeks. Earth worms can act as transport hosts. These infectious eggs are ingested by the hedgehog with its food.
Intestinal threadworm: Capillaria erinacei: worms take 25-26 days to develop in the gut after ingestion of the infectious eggs and their eggs are to be found in the hedgehog's faeces.
Lung threadworm: Capillaria Aerophila: parasitises the lungs and eggs can be found in faeces about 3 weeks after ingestion of infective eggs.
To check if your worming has worked - repeat faecal smear for intestinal threadworm 2 weeks after treatment and for lung threadworm 3 weeks after treatment.
Lungworm eggs which contain stage I larvae are shed by the adults, coughed up by the hedgehog and swallowed, thereby entering the digestive tract. On the way the first stage larvae slip out of the eggs and are shed in faeces. In the environment they force their way into the foot of slugs or snails. There they develop within 3 weeks into infectious stage III larvae (via a second stage). The hedgehog ingests stage III larvae whilst eating the intermediate hosts, (snails and slugs). During digestion stage III larvae move from the gut via lymph capillaries into the heart and from there into the lungs. After 3 weeks they develop into adults parasitising the bronchiae and in their turn shed eggs containing first stage larvae.
TAPEWORM: Development cycle of hedgehog tapeworm Hymenolepis erinacei.
Tapeworm segments or proglottids are visible to the naked eye in droppings, measuring 1mm long and 3mm wide. Eggs can also be found measuring 75æm which already contain 6-hooked larvae
Various beetles act as intermediate hosts. Inside the beetle an infectious larval cyst develops out of the 6-hooked larva within 21 days .
The time between ingestion of the larval cyst and shedding of segments (proglottids) or eggs in droppings is about 35 days; that is the time it takes for an adult worm to develop.
Oocysts are shed in droppings. These oocysts sporulate in the environment within 24-48 hours and are infectious to the hedgehog in this fully sporulated state. They are ingested either with food or from the fur in grooming. In the gut sexual and asexual reproduction takes place and after 6-10 days further oocysts are shed.
Acanthocephala - Thorny headed worms can be a problem for juvenile hogs - even causing death through gut perforation as they migrate through the gut wall, but in adults they seem to be passed in faeces without problem. This worm does not appear to develop in hedgehogs at all but is a bird parasite, using woodlice as an intermediate host.