DENNIS KUNKEL MICROSCOPY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DENNIS KUNKEL MICROSCOPY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of Thorny-headed worm (Oncicola canis). Oncicola canis is an acanthocephalid (acanthocephalan), a parasitic worm occurring in the small intestine of a dog, cat or fox (definitive hosts). This parasitic worm is not a cestode, trematode or nematode. Adults are conical shaped and have a proboscis with 6 rows of hooks. The eggs are passed in faeces. It has a life cycle that is not fully understood. The intermediate host (probably an arthropod) ingests eggs from the faeces. The intermediate host (containing cystacanth) is ingested by a paratenic host (turkeys or armadillos). Dogs, cats and foxes ingest the paratenic host and O. canis establishes itself in the small intestine (embedded in the mucosa) causing an intestinal infection. Oncicola canis matures and the perpantent period is unknown. Magnification x4.5 when shortest axis printed at 25 millimetres.
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