Tick-borne diseases comprise a group of maladies that are of substantial medical and veterinary significance. A range of tick-borne pathogens, including diverse species of bacteria and protozoa, can infect both dogs and humans. Hence, the control of tick infestations is pivotal to decrease or prevent tick-borne pathogen transmission. Therefore, different commercial products with insecticidal, repellent or both properties have been developed for use on dogs. Recently, a collar containing a combination of imidacloprid 10% and flumethrin 4.5% has proven effective to prevent tick and flea infestations in dogs under field conditions and the infection by some vector-borne pathogens they transmit under laboratory-controlled conditions.
From March 2011 to April 2012, a field study was conducted in a private shelter in southern Italy to assess the efficacy of the imidacloprid/flumethrin collar against tick and flea infestations and to determine if this strategy would decrease tick-borne pathogen transmission in young dogs. A total of 122 animals were enrolled in the study and randomly assigned to group A (n = 64; collared) or group B (n = 58; untreated controls). Dogs were examined monthly for ticks and fleas and systematically tested for selected tick-borne pathogens.
Compared to controls, the collar provided overall efficacies of 99.7% and 100% against tick and flea infestation, respectively. The overall efficacy for the prevention of tick-borne pathogens (i.e., Anaplasma platys and Babesia vogeli) was 91.6%.
This study demonstrates that the imidacloprid/flumethrin collar is efficacious against flea and tick infestation as well as tick-borne pathogen transmission to dogs under field conditions.
Canine vector-borne diseases; Anaplasma platys; Babesia vogeli; Hepatozoon canis; Prevention; Dog; Imidacloprid; Flumethrin; Tick
The taxonomic status of the brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus sensu stricto), which has long been regarded as the most widespread tick worldwide and a vector of many pathogens to dogs and humans, is currently under dispute.
We conducted a comprehensive morphological and genetic study of 278 representative specimens, which belonged to different species (i.e., Rhipicephalus bursa, R. guilhoni, R. microplus, R. muhsamae, R. pusillus, R. sanguineus sensu lato, and R. turanicus) collected from Europe, Asia, Americas, and Oceania. After detailed morphological examination, ticks were molecularly processed for the analysis of partial mitochondrial (16S rDNA, 12S rDNA, and cox1) gene sequences.
In addition to R. sanguineus s.l. and R. turanicus, three different operational taxonomic units (namely, R. sp. I, R. sp. II, and R. sp. III) were found on dogs. These operational taxonomical units were morphologically and genetically different from R. sanguineus s.l. and R. turanicus. Ticks identified as R. sanguineus s.l., which corresponds to the so-called “tropical species” (=northern lineage), were found in all continents and genetically it represents a sister group of R. guilhoni. R. turanicus was found on a wide range of hosts in Italy and also on dogs in Greece.
The tropical species and the temperate species (=southern lineage) are paraphyletic groups. The occurrence of R. turanicus in the Mediterranean region is confirmed. A consensual re-description of R. sanguineus s.s. and R. turanicus will be necessary to solve the taxonomic problems within the so-called R. sanguineus group.
Rhipicephalus sanguineus; Taxonomy; Morphology; Phylogeny
Three species of the genus Cercopithifilaria have been morphologically and molecularly characterized in dog populations in southern Europe: Cercopithifilaria grassii (Noè, 1907), Cercopithifilaria sp. sensu Otranto et al., 2011 (reported as Cercopithifilaria sp. I), and Cercopithifilaria sp. II sensu Otranto et al., 2012. The adults of Cercopithifilaria sp. I have remained unknown until the present study.
The material originated from a dog from Sardinia (Italy) diagnosed with dermal microfilariae of Cercopithifilaria sp. I. The holotype and three paratypes of Cercopithifilaria bainae Almeida & Vicente, 1984, described from dogs in Brazil, were studied as comparative material. A cox1 (~689 bp) and 12S (~330 bp) gene fragments were amplified and phylogenetic analysis carried out.
The highest numbers of adult nematodes (82%) were collected in the sediment of the subcutaneous tissues of the trunk (n = 37) and forelimbs (n = 36). The morphology of the adult nematodes and microfilariae collected from the dog in Sardinia corresponded to those of C. bainae. All cox1 and 12S gene sequences showed a high homology (99-100%) with sequences from microfilariae of Cercopithifilaria sp. I.
The morphological and molecular identity of the microfilariae of C. bainae overlap those described previously as Cercopithifilaria sp. sensu Otranto et al., 2011 (=Cercopithifilaria sp. I). Therefore, the present study reports the occurrence of C. bainae in Europe, for the first time after its description and the single record in Brazil. C. bainae appears to be highly diffused in dog populations in southern Europe. The phylogenetic analyses based on cox1 and 12S do not reveal the three species of Cercopithifilaria parasitizing dogs as a monophyletic group, which suggests that they have derived independently by host switching.
Canine filarioids; Cercopithifilaria sp. I; Cercopithifilaria sp. II; Cercopithifilaria bainae; Cercopithifilaria grassii; Taxonomy; Europe
Hypoderma tarandi; reindeer warble fly; human; Scandinavia; parasites; myiasis
Here we describe a case of paediatric visceral leishmaniasis recorded in an infant initially suspected for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia due to the clinical and haematological presentation. Eventually the patient was found positive for Leishmania infantum infection and successfully treated. This case emphasises how pivotal a ‘One Health’ approach is for diagnosing this zoonotic disease; highlighting the importance of including Visceral Leishmaniasis in the differential diagnosis of leukaemia-like syndromes in infants travelling to, and living in, the Mediterranean region.
The occurrence of infections by Dirofilaria immitis in canine and human populations depends on several factors linked to both the definitive and intermediate hosts. Little data are available on the risk of human and dog exposure to D. immitis in endemic areas. Data collected on dog- and human-bait traps in endemic areas of north-eastern Italy were used to estimate the likelihood of a receptive host coming into contact with an infected vector.
From 1997 to 1999, mosquitoes were collected from three sampling sites of north-eastern Italy on D. immitis microfilaraemic dogs and on human baits. The bite/night/host rates were determined based on the number of feeding and probing mosquitoes on dogs and humans, respectively. The survival/mortality rates of different species of mosquitoes following the blood meal, and the rate of natural Dirofilaria infection in unfed specimens were estimated. The risk of exposure of dogs and humans to infected mosquito species was determined by combining the bite/host/night and the mosquito infection rates.
A total of 1,165 mosquitoes were collected on human (n = 815) and dog (n = 350) baits with varying species composition (i.e., Culex pipiens, 87.3% and Ochlerotatus caspius, 11.6%). Overall, dogs were more attractive to Cx pipiens than humans (feeding rate 70.2% vs probing rate 25.9%). The highest bite/night/host rate was 84.0 for dogs and 26.5 for humans. Cx pipiens displayed a mortality rate of 76.3% within 13 days and Oc. caspius of 100% within two days following the infective blood meal. In addition, D. immitis DNA was detected in unfed Cx pipiens (infection rate of 0.26%-2.07%). The infection rate adjusted for mosquito mortality was 0.38%. Based on data collected, the contact between an infected mosquito and a host can occur as often as every four nights for D. immitis infected-mosquitoes in dogs and within two weeks for humans.
Cx pipiens was confirmed as the most efficient natural vector of D. immitis in the studied area. In endemic areas, the risk of transmission can be very high for dogs and relevant for humans. Despite the increased awareness of veterinarians and owners on canine dirofilarioses, dogs from rural areas still maintain the natural life cycle of Dirofilaria spp., therefore acting as a source of infection to humans through vector bites.
Dirofilaria immitis; Mosquito vectors; Dogs; Humans; Risk of exposure
Dogs are the main reservoir hosts of Leishmania infantum, the agent of human zoonotic visceral leishmaniosis. This study investigated the efficacy of a polymer matrix collar containing a combination of 10% imidacloprid and 4.5% flumethrin as a novel prophylactic measure to prevent L. infantum infections in young dogs from a hyper-endemic area of southern Italy, with a view towards enhancing current control strategies against both human and canine leishmaniosis.
The study was carried out on 124 young dogs, of which 63 were collared (Group A) while 61 were left untreated (Group B), from March-April 2011 until March 2012. Blood and skin samples were collected at baseline (April 2011) and at the first, second, third and fourth follow-up time points (July, September 2011 and November 2011, and March 2012, respectively). Bone marrow and conjunctiva were sampled at baseline and at the fourth follow-up. Serological, cytological and molecular tests were performed to detect the presence of L. infantum in the different tissues collected. At the end of the trial, no dog from Group A proved positive for L. infantum at any follow-up, whereas 22 dogs from Group B were infected (incidence density rate = 45.1%); therefore, the combination of 10% imidacloprid and 4.5% flumethrin was 100% efficacious for the prevention of L. infantum infection in young dogs prior to their first exposure to the parasite in a hyper-endemic area for CanL.
The use of collars containing 10% imidacloprid and 4.5% flumethrin conferred long-term protection against infection by L. infantum to dogs located in a hyper-endemic area, thus representing a reliable and sustainable strategy to decrease the frequency and spread of this disease among the canine population which will ultimately result in the reduction of associated risks to human health.
Human thelaziosis is an underestimated parasitic disease caused by Thelazia species (Spirurida: Thelaziidae). The oriental eyeworm, Thelazia callipaeda, infects a range of mammalian definitive hosts, including canids, felids and humans. Although this zoonotic parasite is of socio-economic significance in Asian countries, its genetics, epidemiology and biology are poorly understood. Mitochondrial (mt) DNA is known to provide useful genetic markers to underpin fundamental investigations, but no mt genome had been characterized for any members of the family Thelaziidae. In the present study, we sequenced and characterized the mt genome of T. callipaeda. This AT-rich (74.6%) mt genome (13,668 bp) is circular and contains 12 protein-coding genes, 22 transfer RNA genes and two ribosomal RNA genes, but lacks an atp8 gene. All protein-coding genes are transcribed in the same direction; the gene order is the same as those of Dirofilaria immitis and Setaria digitata (Onchocercidae), but distinct from Dracunculus medinensis (Dracunculidae) and Heliconema longissimum (Physalopteridae). Phylogenetic analyses of the concatenated amino acid sequence data for all 12 protein-coding genes by Bayesian inference (BI) showed that T. callipaeda (Thelaziidae) is related to the family Onchocercidae. This is the first mt genome of any member of the family Thelaziidae and should represent a new source of genetic markers for studying the epidemiology, ecology, population genetics and systematics of this parasite of humans and other mammals.
Human thelaziosis is an underestimated parasitic disease caused by the eyeworm Thelazia callipaeda (Spirurida: Thelaziidae). Although this parasite is of significance in humans in many Asian countries, its genetics, epidemiology and biology are poorly understood. Mitochondrial (mt) DNA can provide useful genetic markers for fundamental investigations, but no mt genome had been characterized for any members of the family Thelaziidae. In this study, we sequenced and characterized the mt genome of T. callipaeda. This circular mt genome is 13,668 bp long and contains 12 protein-coding genes, 22 transfer RNA genes and two ribosomal RNA genes, but lacks an atp8 gene. Phylogenetic analyses of the concatenated amino acid sequence data for all 12 protein-coding genes by Bayesian inference showed that T. callipaeda is closely related to the family Onchocercidae, consistent with previous study. This is the first mt genome of any member of the family Thelaziidae, and represents a new source of genetic markers for studies of the epidemiology, ecology, population genetics and systematics of this parasite of human and animal health significance.
Presently, 45% of the total human population of Europe, as well as their domestic and companion animals, are exposed to the risk of vector-borne helminths (VBH) causing diseases. A plethora of intrinsic biological and extrinsic factors affect the relationship among helminths, vectors and animal hosts, in a constantly changing environment. Although canine dirofilarioses by Dirofilaria immitis and Dirofilaria repens are key examples of the success of VBH spreading into non-endemic areas, another example is represented by Thelazia callipaeda eyeworm, an emergent pathogen of dogs, cats and humans in several regions of Europe. The recent finding of Onchocerca lupi causing canine and human infestation in Europe and overseas renders the picture of VBH even more complicated. Similarly, tick-transmitted filarioids of the genus Cercopithifilaria infesting the skin of dogs were recently shown to be widespread in Europe. Although for most of the VBH above there is an increasing accumulation of research data on their distribution at national level, the overall impact of the diseases they cause in dogs and humans is not fully recognised in many aspects. This review investigates the reasons underlying the increasing trend in distribution of VBH in Europe and discusses the diagnostic and control strategies currently available. In addition, this article provides the authors’ opinion on some topics related to VBH that would deserve further scientific investigation.
Zoonosis; Dirofilaria immitis; Dirofilaria repens; Onchocerca lupi; Cercopithifilaria; Thelazia callipaeda; Europe; Risk; Mosquito; Tick; Vector; Treatment; Control
Capillaria aerophila, a trichuroid nematode causing pulmonary infections in wild and domestic carnivores, is occasionally and potentially poorly recognized in infections of humans due to clinicopathological mimicry and a lack of accurate, robust laboratory diagnostics. The present work evaluated the efficiency of a DNA-based assay amplifying a partial cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 (cox1) gene of C. aerophila in the diagnosis of lung capillariosis. Fecal samples from 34 dogs and 10 cats positive at parasitological examination for C. aerophila and other endoparasites (i.e., other lungworms, whipworms, roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, and/or coccidia) and from 44 animals negative for C. aerophila but positive for other endoparasites were molecularly examined. Of the 44 samples positive for C. aerophila at copromicroscopy, 43 scored positive (i.e., 33/34 dogs and 10/10 cats) in seminested PCR, resulting in a sensitivity of 97 to 100%. Samples that were copromicroscopy negative for C. aerophila although positive for other endoparasites never produced a PCR product or nonspecific amplicons. The specific PCR amplification of C. aerophila (i.e., specificity of 100%) was confirmed by a nucleotide sequence analysis of the cox1 amplicons. The potential implications of the molecular diagnosis of lung capillariosis are discussed.
After Thelazia callipaeda infection in dogs and cats were reported in Spain, a human case of thelaziosis in this country was reported, suggesting zoonotic transmission. The active reproductive status of this nematode in situ indicates that humans are competent hosts for this parasite.
Thelazia callipaeda; parasites; helminths; thelaziosis; humans; eye; zoonosis; diagnosis; zoonotic infection; Phortica variegate; Spain
Parasitic diseases can represent a social and economic problem among disadvantaged people - even in developed countries. Due to the limited data available concerning Europe, the aims of the present study were to evaluate the presence of parasites in immigrant children and the risk factors favouring the spread of parasites. Subsequently, the possible correlation between nutritional status and parasitic infections was also investigated.
A convenience sample of two hundred and forty seven immigrant children (aged 0–15) attending the Poliambulatorio della Medicina Solidale in Rome was examined. Data were collected using structured questionnaires, and parasitological and anthropometric tests were applied. Chi-squared test and binary logistic multiple-regression models were used for statistical analysis.
Thirty-seven children (15%) tested positive to parasites of the following species: Blastocystis hominis, Entamoeba coli, Giardia duodenalis, Enterobius vermicularis, Ascaris lumbricoides and Strongyloides stercoralis. A monospecific infection was detected in 30 (81%) out of 37 parasitized children, while the others (19%) presented a polyparasitism. The major risk factors were housing, i.e. living in shacks, and cohabitation with other families (p<0.01). Children classified in the lower height Z-scores had a significantly greater prevalence of parasites (30.9%) than the others (p<0.01).
This study shows that parasite infection in children is still quite common, even in a developed country and that children’s growth and parasitism may be related. Extensive improvements in the living, social and economic conditions of immigrants are urgently needed in order to overcome these problems.
Intestinal parasites; Risk factors; Nutritional status; Immigrant children; Developed country
Aelurostrongylus abstrusus is currently regarded as the main metastrongyloid infesting domestic cats, whereas the reports of Troglostrongylus spp. in domestic and wild felids largely remain anecdotic. This paper reports on pulmonary infestation caused by Troglostrongylus brevior and Troglostrongylus subcrenatus in two kittens and describes, for the first time, associated clinical presentations and pathological features. Morphometrical, molecular and phylogenetic analyses have also been conducted to differentiate here the examined Troglostrongylus species from A. abstrusus, towards a clearer delineation of metastrongyloids affecting cats.
Two kittens were referred for respiratory distress and hospitalized with a diagnosis of severe aelurostrongylosis, based on the presence of metastrongyloid larvae in the faeces. Despite prompt treatment, kittens died within 48 hours. Both kittens were submitted to necropsy to determine the cause of death.
At necropsy, nematode specimens were found in the trachea, bronchi and bronchioles and were associated with respiratory signs (i.e., dyspnoea, polypnea, severe coughing and nasal discharge). Morphology and measurements of adult parasites found allowed the unequivocal identification of T. brevior and T. subcrenatus, even if first stage larvae were rather similar to those of A. abstrusus. Briefly, T. brevior and T. subcrenatus larvae were shorter in length and lacking the typical knob-like terminal end of A. abstrusus. Molecular and phylogenetic analyses corroborated morphological identification and provided data on mitochondrial and ribosomal DNA genes of T. brevior.
Data presented here indicate that T. brevior and T. subcrenatus may cause major respiratory distress in domestic cats. Consequently, these two species should be included, along with A. abstrusus, in the differential diagnosis of cat bronchopulmonary affections and treatment protocols need to be evaluated. Through research on the biology, epidemiology and control of Troglostrongylus spp. infestations in domestic cats are advisable to implement current knowledge on these neglected metastrongyloids.
Aelurostrongylus abstrusus; Cat; Diagnosis; Italy; Metastrongyloidea; Molecular biology; Troglostrongylus brevior; Troglostrongylus subcrenatus
Onchocerca lupi; vector; Greece; scientific expedition; parasitology; eye; vector-borne infections; parasites; nematodes
Capillaria aerophila, Capillaria boehmi and Trichuris vulpis are trichuroid nematodes affecting wild and companion animals all over the World. The canine intestinal whipworm, T. vulpis, is the most common and well- known in veterinary practice, whereas the respiratory C. aerophila and C. boehmi have been rarely reported in pets as a likely consequence of overlapping morphometric and morphological features of the eggs, which impair a correct etiological diagnosis.
In December 2011, a mixed infestation by T. vulpis, C. aerophila and C. boehmi was diagnosed in an asymptomatic dog living in central Italy. Morphometric and morphological findings and pictures of the eggs found at the copromicroscopic analysis are herein reported.
The present work demonstrates that when trichuroid eggs are found in a faecal sample from a dog, a careful morphological and morphometric analysis of individual parasite elements is mandatory. Key diagnostic features (i.e., size, wall surface pattern and aspects of plugs) should be carefully examined when eggs with overlapping shape and appearance are detected. In conclusion, given the importance in clinical practice of canine trichuroids and the zoonotic potential of C. aerophila, these nematodes should be included into the differential diagnosis of intestinal and respiratory parasitoses of dogs by a thorough microscopic analysis of all trichuroid ova present in microscopic fields.
Capillaria aerophila; Capillaria boehmi; Trichuris vulpis; Italy; Mixed infestation; Diagnosis
Thelazia callipaeda eyeworms are transmitted by the non-biting insect vector Phortica variegata in Europe and infest the conjunctiva(s) of several mammalians, including dogs and humans. Infested hosts might remain asymptomatic or display clinical manifestations characterized by variable degrees of severity.
From July to November 2011, nine dogs were detected with eyeworms at two veterinary clinics in Chaves and Bragança (North of Portugal). Nematodes collected from dogs were morphologically and molecularly characterized at species level.
Nematodes were identified as T. callipaeda. The number of worms collected from each dog ranged from three to 76 (average = 17.9 ± 26.8) and was not associated with the severity of clinical signs. Ocular discharge and conjunctivitis were observed in all dogs and ocular pruritus occurred in six of them. Polymerase chain reaction and sequencing of a portion of target cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 gene further identified all nematodes as haplotype 1.
This is the first report of T. callipaeda and associated ocular disease in dogs from Portugal, suggesting that thelaziosis should be included in the differential diagnosis of canine ocular affections. The risk of the infestation spreading from Spain and France to Portugal, through domestic dogs or wild mammals, is realistic.
Dirofilaria repens, which is usually found in canine subcutaneous tissues, is the main causative agent of human dirofilariasis in the Old Word. However, a relationship between animal and human cases of dirofilariasis caused by D. repens in a given area has never been demonstrated. The uneven distribution of D. repens in provinces in Sicily, Italy represented the foundation for this study. We report a human case of ocular infection with D. repens from Trapani Province, where canine dirofilariasis is endemic. The nematode was morphologically and molecularly identified and surgical removal of the parasite was documented. The relationship between the prevalence of D. repens in dogs and the occurrence of human cases of ocular dirofilariasis is discussed on the basis of a review of the historical literature.
Over the last few decades, canine and feline thelaziosis caused by Thelazia callipaeda eye worms has gained the attention of the veterinary community due to the spread of this ocular infestation in geographical areas previously regarded as non endemic. The therapeutic efficacy of milbemycin oxime/praziquantel tablets (Milbemax®) against T. callipaeda was tested in naturally infested dogs and cats.
From January 2009 to July 2011 a placebo controlled and randomized field study was conducted in T. callipaeda endemic areas of Switzerland (CH) and Italy (ITA) involving client-owned animals. Dogs (n = 56) and cats (n = 31) were physically examined at enrolment Day 0 (D0) and twice afterwards (D7 and D14). Infested animals were orally treated with Milbemax® or with placebo tablets on D0 and, if an animal was found still infested with T. callipaeda, also on D7. On D14 nematodes were flushed from the conjunctiva, identified and counted.
Out of 56 dogs, 43 were included in the statistical analysis, whereas 13 were excluded because the products under investigation were not administered with food, as required by the label. On D7 and D14, 72.7% and 90.9% of treated dogs were eye worm free, whereas in the placebo group 95.2% and 76.2% still harbored nematodes, resulting in a mean percentage worm count reduction for the Milbemax® group of 86.1% and 96.8%, respectively. Both results were significantly higher (p = 0.0001) than the placebo group. Out of the 31 cats included in the study at D7 and D14, 53.3% and 73.3% treated with Milbemax® were free of T. callipaeda, while 81.3% and 73.3 in the placebo group were still harbouring eye worms, resulting in a mean percentage worm count reduction for the treated group of 62.2% and 80.0%, respectively. Both results were significantly higher (p = 0.0106 and p = 0.0043) than the placebo group.
The commercial formulation of milbemycin oxime at the minimal dose of 0.5 mg/kg and 2 mg/k in dogs and cats, respectively, showed a high therapeutic efficacy in curing T. callipaeda infestations. The advantages of an oral application are additionally increased by the large spectrum of activity of praziquantel and milbemycin oxime against Cestodes and Nematodes infesting dogs and cats.
Thelazia callipaeda; Milbemycin oxime; Dogs; Cats; Treatment
Among ocular vector-borne pathogens, Onchocerca volvulus, the agent of the so-called “river blindness”, affects about 37 million people globally. Other Onchocerca spp. have been sporadically reported as zoonotic agents. Cases of canine onchocerciasis caused by Onchocerca lupi are on the rise in the United States and Europe. Its zoonotic role has been suspected but only recently ascertained in a single case from Turkey. The present study provides further evidence on the occurrence of O. lupi infesting human eyes in two patients from Turkey (case 1) and Tunisia (case 2). The importance of obtaining a correct sample collection and preparation of nematodes infesting human eyes is highlighted.
In both cases the parasites were identified with morpho-anatomical characters at the gross examination, histological analysis and anatomical description and also molecularly in case 1.
The nematode from the first case was obviously O. lupi based on their morphology at the gross examination, histological analysis and anatomical description. In the second case, although the diagnostic cuticular characters were not completely developed, other features were congruent with the identification of O. lupi. Furthermore, the morphological identification was also molecularly confirmed in the Turkish case.
The results of this study suggest that O. lupi infestation is not an occasional finding but it should be considered in the differential diagnosis of other zoonotic helminths causing eye infestation in humans (e.g., D. immitis and Dirofilaria repens). Both cases came from areas where no cases of canine onchocerciasis were previously reported in the literature, suggesting that an in depth appraisal of the infestation in canine populations is necessary. Physicians and ophthalmologists are advised on how to preserve nematode samples recovered surgically, to allow a definitive, correct etiological diagnosis.
Onchocerca lupi; Zoonosis; Ocular infestation; Dog; Turkey, Tunisia
Dirofilaria immitis and Dirofilaria repens are transmitted by bloodsucking culicid mosquitoes belonging to Culex, Aedes, Ochlerotatus, Anopheles and Mansonia genera.
The detection of filarioids in mosquitoes for assessing distribution of vectors and/or of pathogens in a given area (also known as “xenomonitoring”), when based on individual dissection of wild-caught female mosquitoes is time consuming and hardly applicable in large epidemiological surveys.
Our study aimed to evaluate the recently developed duplex real-time PCR for screening large number of culicids and to assess their positivity for D. immitis and D. repens in an area where both species are endemic.
A duplex real-time PCR was used to detect and differentiate D. immitis and D. repens in mosquitoes collected in six provinces of the Veneto region using 43 carbon dioxide-baited traps under the frame of an entomological surveillance program to monitor the vectors of West Nile disease. From early May till October 2010, unfed female mosquitoes (n = 40,892) were captured in 20 selected sites.
Mosquitoes identified as Culex pipiens, Ochlerotatus caspius, Aedes vexans and Culex modestus were grouped into 995 pools according to species, day and site of collection (from minimum of 1 to maximum of 57). Out of 955 pools, 23 (2.41 %) scored positive for Dirofilaria spp. of which, 21 (2.2 %) for D. immitis and two (0.21 %) for D. repens. An overall Estimated Rate of Infection (ERI) of 0.06 % was recorded, being higher in Och. caspius and Ae. vexans (i.e., 0.18 % and 0.14 %, respectively). At least one mosquito pool was positive for Dirofilaria spp. in each province with the highest ERI recorded in Vicenza and Padova provinces (i.e., 0.42% and 0.16 %, respectively). Mosquitoes collected in all provinces were positive for D. immitis whereas, only two (i.e., Padova and Rovigo) provinces scored positive for D. repens. All mosquito species, except for Cx. modestus, were positive for D. immitis, whereas D. repens was only found in Cx. pipiens.
The results suggest that both Dirofilaria species are endemic and may occur in sympatry in the examined area. The molecular approach herein used represents a powerful tool for surveillance programs of D. immitis and D. repens in the culicid vectors towards a better understanding of the epidemiology of the infections they cause and their seasonal transmission patterns.
Dirofilaria immitis; Dirofilaria repens; Real-time PCR; Mosquitoes; Vector; Surveillance
Ixodes ricinus, a competent vector of several pathogens, is the tick species most frequently reported to bite humans in Europe. The majority of human cases of Lyme borreliosis (LB) and tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) occur in the north-eastern region of Italy. The aims of this study were to detect the occurrence of endemic and emergent pathogens in north-eastern Italy using adult tick screening, and to identify areas at risk of pathogen transmission. Based on our results, different strategies for tick collection and pathogen screening and their relative costs were evaluated and discussed.
From 2006 to 2008 adult ticks were collected in 31 sites and molecularly screened for the detection of pathogens previously reported in the same area (i.e., LB agents, TBE virus, Anaplasma phagocytophilum, Rickettsia spp., Babesia spp., "Candidatus Neoehrlichia mikurensis"). Based on the results of this survey, three sampling strategies were evaluated a-posteriori, and the impact of each strategy on the final results and the overall cost reductions were analyzed. The strategies were as follows: tick collection throughout the year and testing of female ticks only (strategy A); collection from April to June and testing of all adult ticks (strategy B); collection from April to June and testing of female ticks only (strategy C).
Eleven pathogens were detected in 77 out of 193 ticks collected in 14 sites. The most common microorganisms detected were Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato (17.6%), Rickettsia helvetica (13.1%), and "Ca. N. mikurensis" (10.5%). Within the B. burgdorferi complex, four genotypes (i.e., B. valaisiana, B. garinii, B. afzelii, and B. burgdorferi sensu stricto) were found. Less prevalent pathogens included R. monacensis (3.7%), TBE virus (2.1%), A. phagocytophilum (1.5%), Bartonella spp. (1%), and Babesia EU1 (0.5%). Co-infections by more than one pathogen were diagnosed in 22% of infected ticks. The prevalences of infection assessed using the three alternative strategies were in accordance with the initial results, with 13, 11, and 10 out of 14 sites showing occurrence of at least one pathogen, respectively. The strategies A, B, and C proposed herein would allow to reduce the original costs of sampling and laboratory analyses by one third, half, and two thirds, respectively. Strategy B was demonstrated to represent the most cost-effective choice, offering a substantial reduction of costs, as well as reliable results.
Monitoring of tick-borne diseases is expensive, particularly in areas where several zoonotic pathogens co-occur. Cost-effectiveness studies can support the choice of the best monitoring strategy, which should take into account the ecology of the area under investigation, as well as the available budget.
Ixodes ricinus; tick-borne diseases; surveillance; economic evaluation; Italy.
The human-animal bond has been a fundamental feature of mankind's history for millennia. The first, and strongest of these, man's relationship with the dog, is believed to pre-date even agriculture, going back as far as 30,000 years. It remains at least as powerful today. Fed by the changing nature of the interactions between people and their dogs worldwide and the increasing tendency towards close domesticity, the health of dogs has never played a more important role in family life. Thanks to developments in scientific understanding and diagnostic techniques, as well as changing priorities of pet owners, veterinarians are now able, and indeed expected, to play a fundamental role in the prevention and treatment of canine disease, including canine vector-borne diseases (CVBDs).
The CVBDs represent a varied and complex group of diseases, including anaplasmosis, babesiosis, bartonellosis, borreliosis, dirofilariosis, ehrlichiosis, leishmaniosis, rickettsiosis and thelaziosis, with new syndromes being uncovered every year. Many of these diseases can cause serious, even life-threatening clinical conditions in dogs, with a number having zoonotic potential, affecting the human population.
Today, CVBDs pose a growing global threat as they continue their spread far from their traditional geographical and temporal restraints as a result of changes in both climatic conditions and pet dog travel patterns, exposing new populations to previously unknown infectious agents and posing unprecedented challenges to veterinarians.
In response to this growing threat, the CVBD World Forum, a multidisciplinary group of experts in CVBDs from around the world which meets on an annual basis, gathered in Nice (France) in 2011 to share the latest research on CVBDs and discuss the best approaches to managing these diseases around the world.
As a result of these discussions, we, the members of the CVBD Forum have developed the following recommendations to veterinarians for the management of CVBDs.
In the past decades, cases of canine ocular onchocercosis have been reported worldwide, particularly in the United States and Europe. Onchocerca lupi, originally described from a wolf, has been implicated in some of these cases, and its zoonotic role has been hypothesized on the basis of the reexamination of two cases of human ocular onchocerciasis. In the present study, we describe, for the first time, the occurrence of O. lupi in the subconjunctival region of the human eye in a patient from Turkey. The nematode was identified as O. lupi based on its morphology and molecular phylogenetic analysis of partial cox1 and 12S ribosomal DNA genes. The results suggest that O. lupi should be considered in the differential diagnosis of other eye parasitic infections in humans. The role of dogs as natural hosts of O. lupi and the vectors of this zoonotic parasite need to be investigated.
This study was aimed at investigating the distribution of a Cercopithifilaria sp. sensu Otranto et al., 2011 with dermal microfilariae recently identified in a dog from Sicily (Italy). A large epidemiological survey was conducted by examining skin samples (n = 917) and ticks (n = 890) collected from dogs at different time points in Italy, central Spain and eastern Greece.
The overall prevalence of Cercopithifilaria sp. in the sampled animal populations was 13.9% and 10.5% by microscopy of skin sediments and by PCR on skin samples, respectively. Up to 21.6% and 45.5% of dogs in Spain were positive by microscopical examination and by PCR. Cumulative incidence rates ranging from 7.7% to 13.9% were estimated in dogs from two sites in Italy. A low level of agreement between the two diagnostic tests (microscopical examination and PCR) was recorded in sites where samples were processed in parallel. Infestation rate as determined by tick dissection (from 5.2% to 16.7%) was higher than that detected by PCR (from 0% to 3.9%); tick infestation was significantly associated with Cercopithifilaria sp. infestation in dogs from two out of four sites. Developing larvae found in ticks were morphometrically studied and as many as 1469 larvae were found in a single tick.
Our data suggest that, in addition to the most common species of filarioids known to infest dogs (i.e., Dirofilaria immitis, Dirofilaria repens and Acanthocheilonema reconditum), Cercopithifilaria sp. with dermal microfilariae should be considered due to its widespread distribution in southern Europe and high frequency in tick-exposed dogs.
canine filarioids; Cercopithifilaria; Cercopithifilaria bainae; Cercopithifilaria grassii; Rhipicephalus sanguineus; vector; epidemiology; Europe
Phlebotomine sand flies are blood-sucking insects that can transmit Leishmania parasites. Hosts bitten by sand flies develop an immune response against sand fly salivary antigens. Specific anti-saliva IgG indicate the exposure to the vector and may also help to estimate the risk of Leishmania spp. transmission. In this study, we examined the canine antibody response against the saliva of Phlebotomus perniciosus, the main vector of Leishmania infantum in the Mediterranean Basin, and characterized salivary antigens of this sand fly species.
Sera of dogs bitten by P. perniciosus under experimental conditions and dogs naturally exposed to sand flies in a L. infantum focus were tested by ELISA for the presence of anti-P. perniciosus antibodies. Antibody levels positively correlated with the number of blood-fed P. perniciosus females. In naturally exposed dogs the increase of specific IgG, IgG1 and IgG2 was observed during sand fly season. Importantly, Leishmania-positive dogs revealed significantly lower anti-P. perniciosus IgG2 compared to Leishmania-negative ones. Major P. perniciosus antigens were identified by western blot and mass spectrometry as yellow proteins, apyrases and antigen 5-related proteins.
Results suggest that monitoring canine antibody response to sand fly saliva in endemic foci could estimate the risk of L. infantum transmission. It may also help to control canine leishmaniasis by evaluating the effectiveness of anti-vector campaigns. Data from the field study where dogs from the Italian focus of L. infantum were naturally exposed to P. perniciosus bites indicates that the levels of anti-P. perniciosus saliva IgG2 negatively correlate with the risk of Leishmania transmission. Thus, specific IgG2 response is suggested as a risk marker of L. infantum transmission for dogs.
Leishmania infantum is the causative agent of zoonotic visceral leishmaniasis in the Mediterranean Basin and Phlebotomus perniciosus serve as the major vector. In the endemic foci, Leishmania parasites are transmitted mostly to dogs, the main reservoir host, and to humans. We studied the canine humoral immune response to Phlebotomus perniciosus saliva and its potential use as a marker of sand fly exposure and consequently as a risk marker for Leishmania transmission. We also characterized major salivary antigens of P. perniciosus. We demonstrated that under laboratory conditions, the levels of anti-P. perniciosus saliva antibodies positively correlated with the number of blood-fed sand flies and therefore, may be used to evaluate the need for, and the effectiveness of, anti-vector campaigns. In parallel, we studied sera of dogs naturally exposed to P. perniciosus in highly active focus of canine leishmaniasis in Southern Italy. Specific antibodies against P. perniciosus saliva were significantly increased according to the ongoing sand fly season. Moreover, the levels of anti-P. perniciosus antibodies in naturally bitten dogs negatively correlated with anti-Leishmania seropositivity. Thus, for dogs living in endemic areas, specific antibody response against saliva of the vector is an important marker for estimating the risk of Leishmania transmission.