Vaccination for meningeal worm to Prevent Disease Caused by Parelaphostrongylus ten

Vaccination for meningeal worm to Prevent Disease Caused by Parelaphostrongylus tenuis

(MAF study sponsored by ARF)

Principal investigator:

LA-13 Judith A. Appleton
Cornell University

Note: The amount of $4250 was donated by Anthony Stachowski, DVM, Stachowski Alpacas, Phil Mizrahie, Pet Center, and Bill Coburn/Tom Hunt, Camelids of Delaware and earmarked for the support of this study. The funds represent 25% of the proceeds from the sale of a female alpaca at the 2002 AOBA auction.

Parelaphostrongylus tenuis, commonly known as meningeal worm, is a parasite that attacks the central nervous system and causes severe neurologic disease in llamas and alpacas. White-tailed deer serve as definitive hosts for the parasite and do not get sick from the infection. Llamas and alpacas can become sick when they ingest parasites while grazing in pastures shared with deer. The parasites move quickly and by the time the animals show signs of disease, drug treatment is often not effective. The investigators are developing a vaccine that would prevent disease in llamas and alpacas exposed to the parasite.


Investigators identified and studied four proteins that have potential to serve as vaccines for Parelaphostrongylus tenuis. Research on similar proteins from other parasites indicates that these P. tenuis proteins are excellent targets for vaccination. Investigators hope to test these proteins in a follow-up study. In addition to identifying the proteins, the study discovered that the infectious stage of this parasite can emerge from snails and slugs, and it has the potential to contaminate vegetation and promote transmission of the parasite.