Dioctophyma renale

Dioctophyma renale or the giant kidney worm is a common parasital worm found especially in carnivorous animals, particularly minks and mustelids. It can also infect cats, dogs and humans. Becoming up to 60 centimeters in length in mink and up to 100 centimeters in lupine animals, this vermillion kidney worm is one of the largest of all parasitic nematodes.

The giant kidney worm enters the definitive host (most commonly the mink) after ingestion of raw fish, frogs, or annelids containing encysted larvae. The larva migrates through the bowel wall and travels through the abdominal cavity first to the liver and then to the kidney. It slowly devouring the renal tissue of the host and reducing it to a hollow organic sack. It is found more frequently in the right kidney than in the left. It can also occur in the digestive tract.

Occasionally this worm is an incidental finding within the abdominal cavity during routine ovariohysterectomies on canines in veterinary practices.

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