Cercopithifilaria species in dogs and ticks from Greece

Abstract

Filarioids of the genus Cercopithifilaria (Spirurida, Onchocercidae) are parasites of wild and domestic animals in tropical and subtropical regions being transmitted by ixodid ticks. Though this filarioid species have been studied in canine and tick populations in Europe, data on their species diversity and geographical distribution in Greece is scant. Thus, the aims of this study were to investigate the presence of Cercopithifilaria spp. in dogs and ticks across Greece and to assess the possible risk factors. A total of 500 skin biopsies were collected from dogs, while 508 ticks were collected from 180 infested animals and examined. Sediments from skin biopsies were microscopically screened for detection of dermal microfilaria (mfs). Skin samples (n = 115) and tick specimens (n = 153) were molecularly subjected by PCR. Overall, 70 samples (14%) scored positive for mfs. Specifically, 68 samples (13.6%) were positive for Cercopithifilaria bainae and two (0.4%) were co-infected with C. bainae and Cercopithifilaria sp. II. Molecular analyses revealed that all sequences obtained belong to C. bainae. Haplotype I was the most frequent (92.6%), followed by haplotype XVIII (3%) and haplotypes II and IX (1.5%). Three new haplotypes of C. bainae, named XIX, XX, and XXI, were also identified. Among the risk factors examined, habitat, dog use, body weight, tick infestation history, and the use of acaricides were associated with the presence of C. bainae. The estimated prevalence of Cercopithifilaria spp. demonstrates that these filarioids are common in dogs and ticks in Greece. Finally, the identification of 7 haplotypes for C. bainae confirms their genetic variability.

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Data availability

The datasets generated during and analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

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Funding

This study was part of the doctoral dissertation of AA., which was financially supported by the State Scholarships Foundation (ΙΚΥ).

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All authors read and approved the final submitted version of the manuscript. Study design, sampling, parasitological and molecular methods, and preparation of the manuscript by Athanasios Angelou; study design, molecular methods, phylogenetic analysis, preparation, and critical review of the manuscript by Maria Stefania Latrofa; molecular methods by Giada Annoscia; study design and critical review of the manuscript by Isaia Symeonidou; statistical analysis and critical review of the manuscript by Alexandros Theodoridis; study design and critical review of the manuscript by Zoe S. Polizopoulou, Domenico Otranto, and Elias Papadopoulos.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Elias Papadopoulos.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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The study was conducted in compliance with the national animal welfare regulations. The applied diagnostic veterinary procedures are not within the context of relevant EU legislation for animal experimentations (Directive 86/609/EC) and may be performed in order to diagnose animal diseases and improve animal welfare. No suffering was caused during sample collection. Consent was ensured by owners or registered veterinarians (private, public, or municipality, depending per case).

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Angelou, A., Latrofa, M.S., Annoscia, G. et al. Cercopithifilaria species in dogs and ticks from Greece. Parasitol Res (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00436-020-06784-3

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Keywords

  • Canine filarioids
  • Dermal microfilariae
  • Cercopithifilaria spp.
  • Rhipicephalus sanguineus sensu lato