Heartworm on the rise—new insights into Dirofilaria immitis epidemiology
Until recently Dirofilaria immitis, the causative agent of serious canine heartworm disease, has been detected relatively infrequently in Central Europe in comparison with the predominant D. repens species. In the present study, the elevated number of heartworm cases among dogs from a breeding establishment in south-western Slovakia is described. Out of 25 dogs examined, dirofilariasis was detected by single or several diagnostic approaches in 18 animals, which represents a mean prevalence of 72.0%. D. immitis was confirmed in 16 (64.0%) of the infected dogs and D. repens in 8 dogs (32.0%). All cases of D. immitis infection were detected in areas regarded as D. repens-endemic to date. Following the presented results and discussed circumstances, the question of whether the real prevalence of canine heartworm disease in Slovakia, or even in Central Europe as a whole, has been underestimated, or if D. immitis is currently becoming endemic in this area.
KeywordsCanine heartworm disease Dirofilaria immitis Epidemiology Diagnostic
The authors are grateful to Mr. David McLean for proofreading the manuscript.
The research was supported by the Science Grant Agency VEGA, project No. 2/0018/16; the Slovak Research and Development Agency, project No. APVV-15-0114; and by the project “Centre of Excellence for Parasitology” (code ITMS: 26220120022), which is supported by the Research and Development Operational Programme funded by the ERDF (0.4).
Compliance with ethical standards
The project was approved by the Ethics Committee at the Institute of Parasitology SAS under the Statement No. EK/04/2017 issued on February 9, 2017.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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