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Gapeworm

Gapeworm
File:Gapeworms.jpg
Gapeworms in the trachea of a Ringnecked Pheasant
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Nematoda
Class: Secernentea
Order: Strongylida
Family: Syngamidae
Genus: Syngamus
Species: S. trachea
Binomial name
Syngamus trachea
Montagu, 1811

A gapeworm (Syngamus trachea) is a parasitic nematode worm infecting the tracheas of certain birds. The resulting disease, known as gape or the gapes, occurs when the worms clog and obstruct the airway. The worms are also known as red worms or forked worms due to their red color and the permanent procreative conjunction of males and females. Gapeworm is common in young, domesticated chickens and turkeys.

When the female gapeworm lays her eggs in the trachea of an infected bird, the eggs are coughed up, swallowed, then defecated. When birds consume the eggs found in the feces or an intermediate host such as earthworms, snails (Planorbarius corneus, Bithynia tentaculata, …), or slugs, they become infected with the parasite.

Ivermectin is a drug often used to control gapeworm infection in birds.

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