Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Thomas A. Nelson

Thesis Committee Member

Jeffrey R. Laursen


This study focuses on the prevalence of heartworm and lungworms in Illinois' canid species, and the effect that they may have on condition (body weight, kidney fat, marrow fat) and reproduction (placental scars) on coyote populations. A total of 1,150 coyotes (Canis latrans), 2,269 domestic dogs, 47 red foxes (Vulpes vulpes), and 2 gray foxes (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) were examined. Prevalence of heartworms (Dirofilaria immitis) averaged 17.8% in coyotes, 3.0% in domestic dogs, 2.0% in red foxes, and 0% in gray foxes. Domestic dogs not receiving any type of prophylactic treatment had a higher prevalence (12.5%) of heartworms than dogs on a prophylactic program (0.3%). Heartworm prevalence varied regionally throughout the state in both coyotes and domestic dogs reflecting a lower prevalence in the northern regions of the states and a higher prevalence in the south.

Of the 341 coyotes examined for lungworms, 52 (15.2%) were infected with Capillaria aerophila, 10 (2.9%) with Fillaroides sp., 8 (2.3%) with Paragonimus kellicotti, and 2 (0.6%) with Crenosoma vulpis. A stomach parasite, Physaloptera rara, was also recovered from 58 (17%) coyotes. Fifteen red foxes were examined for the presence of lung parasites, of which, 11 (73.3%) were infected with Capillaria aerophila, 1 (1.1%) was infected with Crenosoma vulpis, and 1 (1.1%) with Physaloptera rara.

Heartworm and/or a lungworm infection did not appear to significantly impact the condition or reproduction of coyotes since no significant differences were observed in the body weight, fat reserves, or number of placental scars of uninfected and infected individuals.

Graduate Program


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Zoology Commons