Brain worms are very common in the large hoofed species of the deer family like moose. They often get infected accidentally while browsing or grazing. Brain worms can be treated with drugs used to treat infections caused by parasitic worms. Corticosteroids are given to the moose to reduce the inflammation in their brains that occurs as the larvae die.
How Do Moose Get Brain Worms?
The meningeal worm, commonly known as brain worm, is a parasitic roundworm that affects members of the deer family in North America. The said species is a slender roundworm and is often detected in the cavity of the brain. When a moose eats an infected snail, the parasite travels from the stomach to its brain through the same pathway.
Moose Brain Worm Symptoms
There can be several symptoms when a moose gets attacked by a brain worm. Some of these common symptoms are walking in circles, apparent blindness, and the tilting of the head as well as the neck. These symptoms, however, vary from moose to moose. The other symptoms that can also be seen are fearlessness, lethargy, inability to stand, and weakness of the hindquarters.
Can Brain Worms Kill A Moose?
The environment of the brain of a moose is unsuitable for the brain worms to produce eggs in it. However, it makes the moose severely ill with neurological symptoms and eventually kills the moose. It is a nematode worm that can also be spread by white-tailed deer and on some rare occasions by a mule deer. Brain worm causes severe damage to the moose brain that leads to death.
How Can We Save Moose From Brain Worms?
Try to gather up piles and piles of the dung of a moose or a deer. Then, look for the traces of DNA of snails and slugs. The DNA testing should make it clear as to which gastropods are causing brain worms in the particular moose. Different slugs and snails like different plants and micro-habitats. This will help biologists to give the proper treatment to save the moose.
Diagnosis of Brain Worm In Moose
As per reports, there is no commercial antibody test by which brain worms can be detected. So at present, diagnosis in moose is conducted with the help of necropsy in order to detect brain worms in the brain or in the spinal cord of the animal. These brain worm larvae are, however, very difficult to identify from the other parasites. These can also be present in the fecal pellets of a moose.
How Does The Brain Worm Complete Their Lifecycle?
While grazing or browsing, a moose gets accidentally infected by a slug or a snail. It penetrates the small intestine wall and enters the body cavity of the moose. Then they migrate to the spinal cord through the nerves. Here they stay for a short time and grow in size. Thereafter, they migrate to the surrounding subdural space of the brain of moose through the outside of the cord.
Brain worms in moose have been diagnosed in Michigan as long as 1985 when they were reintroduced in the region. Brain worms have not been identified in the calves of moose. However, they are very common in the adult as well as sub-adult age groups of moose.