By Roger J. Klingenberg
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Nematodes are among the most common parasites diagnosed in reptiles, with more than five hundred reptile forms identified. Larval forms migrate through the body. Adult nematodes are typically thought of as worms. Because of their ubiquitous nature, several drugs have been adapted to treat them.
Pyrantel is a substituted imidazothiazole derivative and very similar in action to levamisole. It works by functioning as a depolarizing neuromuscular blocking agent leading to paralysis of the parasite. Its action is similar to that of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, but it is one hundred times more potent, and its effects cannot be reversed.
The contraindications and toxicity of pyrantel are similar to those of levamisole. Because of potential interactions with insecticides, tranquilizers, muscle relaxants, and central nervous system (CNS) depressants, they should not be used concurrently with any of these products. Pyrantel should not be used with either levamisole or organophosphates.
Pyrantel is dosed at 5 mg/kg PO and repeated as needed at ten- to fourteen-day intervals. The author prefers pyrantel to levamisole, but both must be based on very accurate patient weights and dosage calculations.
Excerpt from the book Understanding Reptile Parasites by Roger Klingenberg with permission from its publisher, Advanced Vivarium Systems, an imprint of BowTie Press. Purchase Understanding Reptile Parasites here.