Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon

Course Number:
VT 107
Course Title:
Veterinary Parasitology and Pathology
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:
Special Fee:

Course Description

Introduces life cycles, modes of transmission, geographical distribution, and diseases associated with animal parasites. Includes parasite identification using prepared slides and collected specimens. Includes terms and processes involved in veterinary pathology, means and processes that result in disease, types of cells and tissues, and signs of inflammation. Prerequisites: Admission to Veterinary Technology program.

Addendum to Course Description

The purpose of this course is to introduce the veterinary technology student to the important parasitic organisms in veterinary medicine. It is intended for first-year veterinary technology students and is a graduation requirement for the Associates Degree in Applied Sciences in Veterinary Technology.  Credits in this course are not transferable to a four-year school towards a baccalaureate degree. The recommended textbook for this course is Veterinary Parasitology by William J. Foreyt and Course Veterinary Parasitology Notes by Randall Haveman DVM.  

Intended Outcomes for the course

Upon successful completion of the course, the student will be able to:

  • Recognize and use basic terminology describing parasites, their hosts and their life cycles.
  • Identify and describe the physical characteristics and pathogenesis of parasitic organisms of the following phyla: Arthropoda, Nematoda, Acanthocephala, Cestoda, Trematoda, and Protozoa. 
  • Understand and perform laboratory procedures in the collection and processing of fecal, urine, blood, hair, skin, or tissue samples used for parasite identification.
  • Differentiate relevant clinical parasites from non-clinical artifacts within diagnostic samples.

Course Activities and Design

This course is designed to be a lecture-lab course.  It is a three-credit-hour course that meets for six-lecture-lab hours per week.  The lecture part of the course will include taxonomy, life cycles, modes of transmission, geographic distribution, disease entities associated with each parasite and description of the identifying characteristics or each organism studied.  The lab will include prepared slides, preserved specimens, staining techniques, collection methods, concentration techniques, and identification of both cysts and eggs.

Outcome Assessment Strategies

  • Grading will be based upon student understanding of the course content as demonstrated by periodic examinations, homework assignments, quizzes, a comprehensive final exam, performance of laboratory tasks, and attendance. To be eligible for a passing grade, the student must have attended a minimum of 80 percent of each of the lecture and lab classes.
  • Graduate performance on the €œLaboratory Procedures" sub-section of the Veterinary Technicians National Examination.
  • These outcomes will be routinely assessed and used to drive relevant changes in the curriculum.

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

Content labeled with an asterisk indicates content required by our accreditor.  Content that is also italicized indicates tasks that the student must be able to perform since they are listed as €œessential tasks€ by the Accreditation Policies and Procedures of the American Veterinary Medical Association's Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities.



The goal is to introduce students to the field of parasitology and basic terms used for describing parasites and their life cycles.


            1.1   Define and apply the following terms:

a.    Symbiont

b.    Commensal

c.    Mutualism

            d.    Parasitism

1.2   Differentiate and correctly apply the following terms:

a.    Ectoparasite parasite

b.    Endoparasite parasite

c.    Faculatative parasite

d.    Incidental parasite

e.    Obligatory parasite

f.    Intermittent or periodic parasite

g.    Permanent parasite

1.3   Identify and/or define the following types of hosts:

a.    Definitive

b.    Intermediate

c.    Vector

d.    Reservoir

e.    Incidental



The goal is to characterize the phylum Arthropoda and its two major classes containing parasitic organisms.  Also, to be able to recognize and characterize the following organisms of common concern.


2.1   List three characteristics for the phylum Arthropoda and characterize the following classes:

a.    Arachnida €“ ticks and mites

b.    Insecta

     2.2   Compare the characteristics of ticks and mites.

     2.3   Identify the following genus of ticks*

a.    Argsides

b.    Ixodes

c.    Dermacenter

d.    Boophilus

e.    Rhipicephalus

2.4   Describe the life cycles for hard ticks and soft ticks.

2.5   Identify (from slide, diagram or kodachrome) the following mites: *

a.    Sarcoptes

b.    Notoedric

c.    Psoroptes

d.    Otodectes

e.    Demodex

2.6   Identify and/or list the diseases caused, life cycle, common names and means of transmission for the mites listed under section 2.5. *

2.7   Differentiate between arachnids and insects.

2.8   Recognize and identify members of the following orders: *

a.    Anoplura

b.    Mallophaga

c.    Siphonoptera

d.    Diptera

2.9   Identify (from slide, kodachrome, or specimen) the following:*

a.    Haematopinus

b.    Linognathus

c.    Bovicola

d.    Trichodectes

e.    Ctenocephalus

f.    Tabanus

g.    Musca

h.    Sarcophaga

i.    Gastrophilus

j.    Melophagus

2.10  Give common names to the above insects.

2.11  Identify the canine and feline flea. *

2.12  List three diseases transmitted by fleas.

2.13  List three diseases transmitted by lice.

2.14  Define the following:

a.    Nits

b.    Pediculosis

2.15  Describe generalized life cycles for: *

a. Lice

b. Fleas

c. Flies

d. Gastrophilis



The goal is for students to become familiar with the more common members of the phylum Nematoda, their life cycles, and diseases caused by parasitic worms found in this phylum.


3.1   List four characteristics of the phylum Nematoda.

3.2   Identify and differentiate (by use of adult specimens, eggs, microfilaria,, or host symptoms) the following roundworms:

a.    Ascaris

b.    Toxocara

c.    Ascaridia

d.    Ancylostoma

e.    Strongyloides

f.    Trichinella

g.    Haemonchus

h.    Habronema

i.    Spirocerca

j.    Dirofilaria

k.    Parascaris

l.    Osteragia

m.    Trichostrongylus

n.    Nematodirus

o.    Cooperia

p.    Oesophagostomum

q.    Small equine strongyles

r.    Oxyuris

s.    Dictylocaulus

t.    Setaria

u.    Hyostrongylus

v.    Globocephalus

w.    Metastrongylus

x.    Stephanurus

y.    Syngamus trachea

z.    Aelurostrongylus

aa.   Hetarkis

bb.   Muellerius

3.3   Identify, specifically, where in the host€™s body each of the above nematodes would be found and what  type of specimens would be needed for identification.

3.4   Describe the life cycles, infective stage, pathogenicity and disease syndromes for the above nematodes. *

3.5   Identify by generic and common name the intermediate hosts involved in life cycles.

3.6   Identify a general geographic range for the above roundworms.

3.7   Identify the common names given to each nematode and common names to diseases produced by each nematode.

3.8   Recognize anatomical features used to identify the above organisms.

3.9   Differentiate the rhabditiform and the filariform larvae of the following:

a. Hookworm

b. Strongyloides

c. Trichostrongyles

3.10  Discuss the free-living and parasitic stages of life cycles and the importance of each.

3.11 Know the complex anatomy of the nematodes.

3.12 Identify zoonotic nematodes.

3.13  Know the means that nematode life cycles affect treatment and control. *

3.14  Use and know ZuSO4, Ovassay, Fecalyzer, Guardia ELISA, and MgSO4, direct smear, fecal analyses.

3.15  Use and know occult ELISA, Knotts, filtration, buffy coat, and direct smear methods of microfilaria analysis. *

3.16  Understand the scotch tape diagnostic test for pinworms.

3.17  Discuss clinical case histories and how lab tests, life cycles and logic aid in diagnosis.



The goal is for students to recognize the spiny-head worms and be able to differentiate them from nematodes.


4.1   Describe the life cycle, infective stage, and normal definitive host for the Acanthocephalids.

4.2   Identify the common name for this group.

4.3   Differentiate this group from the Nematodes.



The goal is to be able to recognize and characterize the more common tapeworms by use of anatomy egg appearance, and life cycle for each organism.


5.1   Identify and be able to differentiate, by use of either adult specimens or eggs, the following tapeworms: *

a.    Anoplocephala and Paranaplocephala

b.    Taenia sp.

c.    Dipylidium caninum

d.    Echinococcus sp.

e.    Monezia

f.    Thysanoma

g.    Hymenolepis

h.    Raillietina

i.    Davainea

5.2   Identify, specifically, where in the host€™s body each  of the above tapeworms would be found and what type of specimens or testing would be needed for diagnosis.

5.3   Describe the life cycles, infective stage, pathogenicity and disease syndromes for the above tapeworms. *

5.4   Identify a general geographic location for each of the above tapeworms.

5.5   Give common names to the above cestodes.

5.6   Identify anatomical structures of adult and larval tapeworms. *

5.7   Identify those tapeworms that use the cysticercus and those that use the cysticercoid to infect  the definitive host.

5.8   Discuss zoonoses and the danger of hydatid disease.

5.9   Differentiate the species of tapeworms from eggs or gravid proglottids. *

5.10  Identify those tapeworms, which do one of the following:

a.    Pass the whole proglottids

b.    Pass eggs only



The goal is to be able to recognize and characterize the more common flukes by use of anatomy, egg appearance, and the life cycle of each organism.


6.1   List three characteristics of the class Trematoda.

6.2   Identify and differentiate, by its use of either adult specimens or eggs, the following flukes: *

a.    Fasciola hepatica

b.    Fascioloides magna

c.    Dicrocoelium     

d.    Nanophytes

e.    Paragonimus

f.    Paramphistomum

6.3   Identify, specifically, where in the host€™s body each of the above flukes would be found and what type of specimens and lab tests would be needed for identification.

6.4   Describe the life cycles, infective stage pathogenicity and disease syndromes for the above trematodes. *

6.5   Identify a general geographic location for each of the above trematodes.

6.6   Give common names for the above flukes.

6.7   Identify distinguishing anatomical characteristics of flukes.

6.8   List three techniques used in fluke diagnosis.



The goal is to recognize those protozoa, which cause disease symptoms, and be able to discuss their life cycles, pathogenicity, diagnosis, and treatment.


7.1   Describe the life cycle, infective stage, pathogenicity, disease syndromes, diagnosis, and treatment of the following protozoa. *

a.    Giardia

b.    Isospora

c.    Toxoplasma

d.    Babesia

e.    Sarcocystis

f.    Haemobartonella

g.    Histomonas

h.    Trichomonas

i.    Leukocytozoan

j.    Hexamita

k.    Plasmodium

l.    Eimeria

m.    Anaplasma

n.    Trypanosoma

o.    Balantidium

p.    Eperythrozoan

q.    Entamoeba

r.    Cryptosporidium

7.2   Identify to group by means of locomotion

7.3   Understand cyst stages as protection in environment.

7.4   Identify in lab and understand lab tests.

7.5   Know how each protozoan deals with transmission to new host.

7.6   Know protozoan anatomy.



The goal is to develop an understanding for the proper procedure in the collection and processing of fecal, urine, blood, hair, skin, or tissue samples to be used for parasite identification.


8.1   Demonstrate the following tests and know the reasoning behind each procedure:

a.    ZnSO4 flotation *

b.    MgSO4 modified stoll

c.    Direct smear *

d.    Giardia ELISA *

e.    Ovassy/Fecalyzer

f.    Baermann Test

g.    Sedimentation technique *

h.    Knott€™s Test

i.    Heartworm Millipore Test

j.    Buffy Coat Test

k.    Wet Mount Direct Heartworm Test

l.    Occult ELISA Heartworm Test *

m.    Skin Scraping Analyses *

n.    Scotch Tape Test

o.    Squash prep for tapeworm proglottids

p.   Direct identification of adult parasites

8.2   Demonstrate objects found in fecal floatations and smears that are not parasites, but may be confused as parasites, i.e. the €œpseudo-parasites€ such as pollens and yeast.