Canine Neural Angiostrongyliasis (CNA) is caused by the obligatory neural migration of Angiostrongylus cantonensis larvae in dogs. Typically, cases are juvenile dogs with progressive CNS dysfunction characterised by hyperaesthesia and often associated with eosinophilic pleocytosis of the CSF. In Australia, most cases occur in between March and June.
In dogs, the only definitive way to diagnose CNA has been by necropsy. While many cases of CNA are characteristic and presumptive diagnosis can be made based on typical history, signalment, clinical signs, CSF analysis and response to glucocorticoids, there appear to be an increasing number of cases occurring in older dogs, including cases that may display atypical clinical signs.
Twenty-two cases of suspected CNA were collected prospectively to compare with those previously described, including 37 cases published by Mason in 1983, and to examine the accuracy of an ELISA used to diagnose human neural angiostrongyliasis in Australia. Samples were collected from two control populations in an attempt to validate the ELISA results. The current ELISA is not sensitive or specific enough to allow a definitive diagnosis of CNA to be made using serum but is useful when applied to CSF specimens.
Treatment should include glucocorticoids at immunosuppressive to high anti-inflammatory doses for a minimum of 6 to 8 weeks. Anthelmintics may be beneficial but should be used with caution and in conjunction with glucocorticoids. Owners should be warned of potential permanent sequelae of CNA and the side effects associated with long-term glucocorticoid use, particularly in young animals.