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1.  Infection and exposure to vector-borne pathogens in rural dogs and their ticks, Uganda 
Parasites & Vectors  2015;8:306.
In rural parts of Africa, dogs live in close association with humans and livestock, roam freely, and usually do not receive prophylactic measures. Thus, they are a source of infectious disease for humans and for wildlife such as protected carnivores. In 2011, an epidemiological study was carried out around three conservation areas in Uganda to detect the presence and determine the prevalence of vector-borne pathogens in rural dogs and associated ticks to evaluate the risk that these pathogens pose to humans and wildlife.
Serum samples (n = 105), blood smears (n = 43) and blood preserved on FTA cards (n = 38) and ticks (58 monospecific pools of Haemaphysalis leachi and Rhipicephalus praetextatus including 312 ticks from 52 dogs) were collected from dogs. Dog sera were tested by indirect immunofluorescence to detect the presence of antibodies against Rickettsia conorii and Ehrlichia canis. Antibodies against R. conorii were also examined by indirect enzyme immunoassay. Real time PCR for the detection of Rickettsia spp., Anaplasmataceae, Bartonella spp. and Babesia spp. was performed in DNA extracted from FTA cards and ticks.
99 % of the dogs were seropositive to Rickettsia spp. and 29.5 % to Ehrlichia spp. Molecular analyses revealed that 7.8 % of the blood samples were infected with Babesia rossi, and all were negative for Rickettsia spp. and Ehrlichia spp. Ticks were infected with Rickettsia sp. (18.9 %), including R. conorii and R. massiliae; Ehrlichia sp. (18.9 %), including E. chaffeensis and Anaplasma platys; and B. rossi (1.7 %). Bartonella spp. was not detected in any of the blood or tick samples.
This study confirms the presence of previously undetected vector-borne pathogens of humans and animals in East Africa. We recommend that dog owners in rural Uganda be advised to protect their animals against ectoparasites to prevent the transmission of pathogens to humans and wildlife.
PMCID: PMC4460633  PMID: 26043771
Babesia; Dogs; East Africa; Ehrlichia; Rickettsia; Tick-borne pathogens
2.  LeishVet update and recommendations on feline leishmaniosis 
Parasites & Vectors  2015;8:302.
Limited data is available on feline leishmaniosis (FeL) caused by Leishmania infantum worldwide. The LeishVet group presents in this report a review of the current knowledge on FeL, the epidemiological role of the cat in L. infantum infection, clinical manifestations, and recommendations on diagnosis, treatment and monitoring, prognosis and prevention of infection, in order to standardize the management of this disease in cats. The consensus of opinions and recommendations was formulated by combining a comprehensive review of evidence-based studies and case reports, clinical experience and critical consensus discussions. While subclinical feline infections are common in areas endemic for canine leishmaniosis, clinical illness due to L. infantum in cats is rare. The prevalence rates of feline infection with L. infantum in serological or molecular-based surveys range from 0 % to more than 60 %. Cats are able to infect sand flies and, therefore, they may act as a secondary reservoir, with dogs being the primary natural reservoir. The most common clinical signs and clinicopathological abnormalities compatible with FeL include lymph node enlargement and skin lesions such as ulcerative, exfoliative, crusting or nodular dermatitis (mainly on the head or distal limbs), ocular lesions (mainly uveitis), feline chronic gingivostomatitis syndrome, mucocutaneous ulcerative or nodular lesions, hypergammaglobulinaemia and mild normocytic normochromic anaemia. Clinical illness is frequently associated with impaired immunocompetence, as in case of retroviral coinfections or immunosuppressive therapy. Diagnosis is based on serology, polymerase chain reaction (PCR), cytology, histology, immunohistochemistry (IHC) or culture. If serological testing is negative or low positive in a cat with clinical signs compatible with FeL, the diagnosis of leishmaniosis should not be excluded and additional diagnostic methods (cytology, histology with IHC, PCR, culture) should be employed. The most common treatment used is allopurinol. Meglumine antimoniate has been administered in very few reported cases. Both drugs are administered alone and most cats recover clinically after therapy. Follow-up of treated cats with routine laboratory tests, serology and PCR is essential for prevention of clinical relapses. Specific preventative measures for this infection in cats are currently not available.
PMCID: PMC4462189  PMID: 26041555
Feline leishmaniosis; Leishmania infantum; Epidemiology; Diagnosis; Treatment; Prognosis; Prevention; Recommendations
3.  Acute febrile illness is associated with Rickettsia spp infection in dogs 
Parasites & Vectors  2015;8:216.
Rickettsia conorii is transmitted by Rhipicephalus sanguineus ticks and causes Mediterranean Spotted Fever (MSF) in humans. Although dogs are considered the natural host of the vector, the clinical and epidemiological significance of R. conorii infection in dogs remains unclear. The aim of this prospective study was to investigate whether Rickettsia infection causes febrile illness in dogs living in areas endemic for human MSF.
Dogs from southern Italy with acute fever (n = 99) were compared with case–control dogs with normal body temperatures (n = 72). Serology and real-time PCR were performed for Rickettsia spp., Ehrlichia canis, Anaplasma phagocytophilum/A. platys and Leishmania infantum. Conventional PCR was performed for Babesia spp. and Hepatozoon spp. Acute and convalescent antibodies to R. conorii, E. canis and A. phagocytophilum were determined.
The seroprevalence rates at first visit for R. conorii, E. canis, A. phagocytophilum and L. infantum were 44.8%, 48.5%, 37.8% and 17.6%, respectively. The seroconversion rates for R. conorii, E. canis and A. phagocytophilum were 20.7%, 14.3% and 8.8%, respectively. The molecular positive rates at first visit for Rickettsia spp., E. canis, A. phagocytophilum, A. platys, L. infantum, Babesia spp. and Hepatozoon spp. were 1.8%, 4.1%, 0%, 2.3%, 11.1%, 2.3% and 0.6%, respectively. Positive PCR for E. canis (7%), Rickettsia spp. (3%), Babesia spp. (4.0%) and Hepatozoon spp. (1.0%) were found only in febrile dogs. The DNA sequences obtained from Rickettsia and Babesia PCRs positive samples were 100% identical to the R. conorii and Babesia vogeli sequences in GenBank®, respectively. Febrile illness was statistically associated with acute and convalescent positive R. conorii antibodies, seroconversion to R. conorii, E. canis positive PCR, and positivity to any tick pathogen PCRs. Fourteen febrile dogs (31.8%) were diagnosed with Rickettsia spp. infection based on seroconversion and/or PCR while only six afebrile dogs (12.5%) seroconverted (P = 0.0248). The most common clinical findings of dogs with Rickettsia infection diagnosed by seroconversion and/or PCR were fever, myalgia, lameness, elevation of C-reactive protein, thrombocytopenia and hypoalbuminemia.
This study demonstrates acute febrile illness associated with Rickettsia infection in dogs living in endemic areas of human MSF based on seroconversion alone or in combination with PCR.
PMCID: PMC4407383  PMID: 25886403
Dog; Febrile illness; Rickettsia conorii; Ehrlichia; Anaplasma; Babesia; Hepatozoon; Leishmania; Serology; PCR
4.  Restricted dog leucocyte antigen (DLA) class II haplotypes and genotypes in Beagles 
•Dog leucocyte antigen (DLA) class II genes were examined in laboratory Beagles.•Laboratory Beagles represent a different immunogenetic pool compared with pet Beagles.•Beagles do not express the full range of DLA haplotypes seen in the canine population.•Beagles could be suitable for vaccine studies if genetic diversity is maintained.
Beagles are commonly used in vaccine trials as part of the regulatory approval process. Genetic restriction within this breed and the impact this might have on vaccine responses are rarely considered. This study was designed to characterise diversity of dog leucocyte antigen (DLA) class II genes in a breeding colony of laboratory Beagles, whose offspring are used in vaccine studies. DLA haplotypes were determined by PCR and sequence-based typing from genomic DNA extracted from blood. Breeding colony Beagles had significantly different DLA haplotype frequencies in comparison with pet Beagles and both groups showed limited DLA diversity. Restricted DLA class II genetic variability within Beagles might result in selective antigen presentation and vaccine responses that are not necessarily representative of those seen in other dog breeds.
PMCID: PMC4366010  PMID: 25634081
Beagle; Dog leucocyte antigen; Major histocompatibility complex
5.  Guideline for veterinary practitioners on canine ehrlichiosis and anaplasmosis in Europe 
Parasites & Vectors  2015;8:75.
Canine ehrlichiosis and anaplasmosis are important tick-borne diseases with a worldwide distribution. Information has been continuously collected on these infections in Europe, and publications have increased in recent years. Prevalence rates are high for Ehrlichia and Anaplasma spp. infections in dogs from different European countries. The goal of this article was to provide a practical guideline for veterinary practitioners on the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of ehrlichiosis and anaplasmosis in dogs from Europe. This guideline is intended to answer the most common questions on these diseases from a practical point of view.
PMCID: PMC4324656  PMID: 25649069
Canine ehrlichiosis; canine anaplasmosis; Ehrlichia canis; Anaplasma phagocytophilum; Anaplasma platys; consensus
6.  Papular dermatitis due to Leishmania infantum infection in seventeen dogs: diagnostic features, extent of the infection and treatment outcome 
Parasites & Vectors  2014;7:120.
This study describes immunological responses, diagnostic features, follow up and treatment outcomes from seventeen dogs with papular dermatitis due to Leishmania infection diagnosed by cytology or real time-PCR.
Specific Leishmania humoral and cellular immune responses were evaluated by means of an immunofluorescence antibody test in all cases and a delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) reaction to leishmanin in eight cases. The extent of infection was studied in several tissues including blood, lymph node, conjunctival and oral swabs, by means of PCR, at the time of diagnosis and during follow-up. Culture was performed on nine dogs from cutaneous lesions and lymph node aspirates and molecular typing was carried out on isolates based on ITS-1, ITS-2 and Haspb gene sequencing analysis.
Cytological and molecular results from fine needle aspirates of papules were diagnostic in 8 out of 13 (61.5%) cases and in 14 out of 15 dogs (93.3%), respectively. In all dogs, specific anti-Leishmania antibody levels were low or absent. Blood and lymph node PCRs and lymph node culture were negative in all dogs. Three out of the nine dogs (33%) were positive by culture from cutaneous lesions. The three isolates were identified as ITS type A, however, polymorphism was observed in the Haspb gene (PCR products of 626 bp, 962 bp and 371 bp). DTH response was positive in all tested dogs at the time of diagnosis. The majority of dogs were successfully treated with only N-methylglucamine antimoniate, after which cutaneous lesions disappeared or were reduced to depigmented, flattened scars. All dogs remained seronegative and the majority of dogs were negative by PCR in several tissues during follow-up.
This study points out that papular dermatitis due to L. infantum is probably an underestimated benign cutaneous problem, associated with a parasite specific cell mediated immunity and a poor humoral immune response. Papular dermatitis is seen in young dogs, and appears to be a mild disease with restricted parasite dissemination and a good prognosis. PCR can be used as a non-invasive method to routinely evaluate papules if Leishmania infection is suspected in cases in which parasites are not visualized by cytology.
PMCID: PMC3987822  PMID: 24661822
Leishmania infantum; Dog; Papular dermatitis; Real-time PCR; Leishmanin skin test; Cytology; Culture; Molecular typing; Prognosis
7.  Serological diagnosis of canine leishmaniosis: comparison of three commercial ELISA tests (Leiscan®, ID Screen® and Leishmania 96®), a rapid test (Speed Leish K®) and an in-house IFAT 
Parasites & Vectors  2014;7:111.
Speed Leish K® is used as a serological screening test for Leishmania infection prior to vaccination. Limited comparative serological studies with Speed Leish K® have been performed. The aim of this study was to evaluate the diagnostic performance of four commercially available serologic tests including ELISAs (Leiscan®, ID Screen® and Leishmania 96®), a rapid test (Speed Leish K®) and an in-house IFAT for the detection of specific antibodies against Leishmania infantum antigen in dogs in different states of infection.
Sick infected dogs (n = 36), healthy infected dogs (n = 18), L. infantum seropositive dogs with low to high levels of antibodies (n = 53), dogs seropositive to other pathogens (to evaluate cross reaction) (n = 14) and uninfected dogs from a non-endemic area (n = 50) and from an endemic area (n = 32) were analysed by the serological methods mentioned above.
The sensitivity was as follows: ID Screen® (0.953), Leiscan® and Leishmania 96® (0.925), IFAT (0.869) and Speed Leish K® (0.636). The maximum specificity (1.000) was attained for all diagnostic tests except the Leishmania 96® (0.896) and IFAT (0.917). The accuracy was as follows: ID Screen® (0.975), Leiscan® (0.961), Leishmania 96® (0.911), IFAT (0.892) and Speed Leish K® (0.808). In relation to the area under the ROC curve (AUC-ROC), the maximum value was attained with the ID Screen® (0.993) closely followed by Leiscan® (0.990), then, Leishmania 96® (0.962), IFAT (0.926) and Speed Leish K® (0.818). For the Kappa index, the best result was obtained by the ID Screen® (0.951) followed by Leiscan® (0.921), Leishmania 96® (0.822), IFAT (0.783) and Speed Leish K® (0.622). Statistically significant differences were found between the AUC-ROC of quantitative serological tests and the only qualitative rapid test evaluated. There were also statistically significant differences between AUC-ROC of the ELISAs (ID Screen® and Leiscan®) and IFAT.
Leiscan® and ID Screen® had superior diagnostic performance measures than IFAT and all quantitative serological tests were superior when compared to Speed Leish K®. Thus, Speed Leish K® may be considered a less valuable screening test prior to vaccination as it may result in vaccination of seropositive dogs and in some cases seropositive sick dogs.
PMCID: PMC3994334  PMID: 24655335
Leishmania infantum; Dog; ELISA; IFAT; Serological rapid test and vaccine
8.  Detection of Leishmania infantum DNA mainly in Rhipicephalus sanguineus male ticks removed from dogs living in endemic areas of canine leishmaniosis 
Parasites & Vectors  2012;5:98.
Sand flies are the only biologically adapted vectors of Leishmania parasites, however, a possible role in the transmission of Leishmania has been proposed for other hematophagous ectoparasites such as ticks. In order to evaluate natural infection by Leishmania infantum in Rhipicephalus sanguineus ticks, taking into account its close association with dogs, 128 adult R. sanguineus ticks removed from 41 dogs living in endemic areas of canine leishmaniosis were studied.
Individual DNA extraction was performed from each tick and whole blood taken from dogs. Dog sera were tested for IgG antibodies to L. infantum antigen by ELISA and L. infantum real-time PCR was performed from canine whole blood samples and ticks.
Leishmania infantum PCR was positive in 13 ticks (10.1%) including one female, (2.0%) and 12 males (15.2%), and in only five dogs (12.2%). Male ticks had a significantly higher infection rate when compared to female R. sanguineus. The percentage of L. infantum seroreactive dogs was 19.5%. All but two PCR positive dogs were seroreactive. Leishmania infantum PCR positive ticks were removed from seropositive and seronegative dogs with a variety of PCR results.
This study demonstrates high prevalence of L. infantum DNA in R. sanguineus ticks removed from L. infantum seropositive and seronegative dogs. The presence of L. infantum DNA was detected mainly in male ticks possibly due to their ability to move between canine hosts and feed on several canine hosts during the adult life stage. Additional studies are needed to further explore the role of R. sanguineus ticks and in particular, male adults, in both the epidemiology and immunology of L. infantum infection in dogs in endemic areas.
PMCID: PMC3409031  PMID: 22613502
Leishmania infantum; Rhipicephalus sanguineus ticks; PCR; Dog
9.  Vector-Borne Diseases - constant challenge for practicing veterinarians: recommendations from the CVBD World Forum 
Parasites & Vectors  2012;5:55.
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.
PMCID: PMC3359183  PMID: 22433172
10.  Humoral and In Vivo Cellular Immunity against the Raw Insect-Derived Recombinant Leishmania infantum Antigens KMPII, TRYP, LACK, and papLe22 in Dogs from an Endemic Area 
Leishmania infantum causes visceral leishmaniasis, a severe zoonotic and systemic disease that is fatal if left untreated. Identification of the antigens involved in Leishmania-specific protective immune response is a research priority for the development of effective control measures. For this purpose, we evaluated, in 27 dogs from an enzootic zone, specific humoral and cellular immune response by delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) skin test both against total L. infantum antigen and the raw Trichoplusia ni insect-derived kinetoplastid membrane protein-11 (rKMPII), tryparedoxin peroxidase (rTRYP), Leishmania homologue of receptors for activated C kinase (rLACK), and 22-kDa potentially aggravating protein of Leishmania (rpapLe22) antigens from this parasite. rTRYP induced the highest number of positive DTH responses (55% of leishmanin skin test [LST]-positive dogs), showing that TRYP antigen is an important T cell immunogen, and it could be a promising vaccine candidate against this disease. When TRYP-DTH and KMPII-DTH tests were evaluated in parallel, 82% of LST-positive dogs were detected, suggesting that both antigens could be considered as components of a standardized DTH immunodiagnostic tool for dogs.
PMCID: PMC2990046  PMID: 21118936
11.  LeishVet guidelines for the practical management of canine leishmaniosis 
Parasites & Vectors  2011;4:86.
The LeishVet group has formed recommendations designed primarily to help the veterinary clinician in the management of canine leishmaniosis. The complexity of this zoonotic infection and the wide range of its clinical manifestations, from inapparent infection to severe disease, make the management of canine leishmaniosis challenging. The recommendations were constructed by combining a comprehensive review of evidence-based studies, extensive clinical experience and critical consensus opinion discussions. The guidelines presented here in a short version with graphical topic displays suggest standardized and rational approaches to the diagnosis, treatment, follow-up, control and prevention of canine leishmaniosis. A staging system that divides the disease into four stages is aimed at assisting the clinician in determining the appropriate therapy, forecasting prognosis, and implementing follow-up steps required for the management of the leishmaniosis patient.
PMCID: PMC3125381  PMID: 21599936
12.  Febrile Illness Associated with Rickettsia conorii Infection in Dogs from Sicily 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2006;12(12):1985-1988.
We report serologic and molecular evidence of acute, febrile illness associated with Rickettsia conorii in 3 male Yorkshire terriers from Sicily (Italy).
PMCID: PMC3291343  PMID: 17326960
Rickettsia conorii; dog and illness; dispatach
13.  Mapping and Sequencing of the Canine NRAMP1 Gene and Identification of Mutations in Leishmaniasis-Susceptible Dogs  
Infection and Immunity  2002;70(6):2763-2771.
The NRAMP1 gene (Slc11a1) encodes an ion transporter protein involved in the control of intraphagosomal replication of parasites and in macrophage activation. It has been described in mice as the determinant of natural resistance or susceptibility to infection with antigenically unrelated pathogens, including Leishmania. Our aims were to sequence and map the canine Slc11a1 gene and to identify mutations that may be associated with resistance or susceptibility to Leishmania infection. The canine Slc11a1 gene has been mapped to dog chromosome CFA37 and covers 9 kb, including a 700-bp promoter region, 15 exons, and a polymorphic microsatellite in intron 1. It encodes a 547-amino-acid protein that has over 87% identity with the Slc11a1 proteins of different mammalian species. A case-control study with 33 resistant and 84 susceptible dogs showed an association between allele 145 of the microsatellite and susceptible dogs. Sequence variant analysis was performed by direct sequencing of the cDNA and the promoter region of four unrelated beagles experimentally infected with Leishmania infantum to search for possible functional mutations. Two of the dogs were classified as susceptible and the other two were classified as resistant based on their immune responses. Two important mutations were found in susceptible dogs: a G-rich region in the promoter that was common to both animals and a complete deletion of exon 11, which encodes the consensus transport motif of the protein, in the unique susceptible dog that needed an additional and prolonged treatment to avoid continuous relapses. A study with a larger dog population would be required to prove the association of these sequence variants with disease susceptibility.
PMCID: PMC127965  PMID: 12010961
14.  Prevalence of Leishmania infantum Infection in Dogs Living in an Area of Canine Leishmaniasis Endemicity Using PCR on Several Tissues and Serology 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2001;39(2):560-563.
We studied and compared the prevalence of Leishmania infection and the seroprevalence and the prevalence of canine leishmaniasis in an area where canine leishmaniasis is endemic. One hundred dogs living on the island of Mallorca (Spain) were studied. In this study, we clinically examined each dog for the presence of symptoms compatible with leishmaniasis, determined the titer of anti-Leishmania antibodies, and investigated the presence of Leishmania DNA by PCR in skin, conjunctiva, and bone marrow samples of each dog. The prevalence of the disease and the seroprevalence were 13 and 26%, respectively. In 63% of the dogs, Leishmania DNA could be detected by PCR in at least one of the tissues studied. The results of positive PCR in the bone marrow, the conjunctiva, and the skin were 17.8, 32, and 51%, respectively. The prevalence of the infection, 67%, was calculated using all animals that were seropositive and/or positive by PCR with any tissue. The results showed that the majority of dogs living in an area where canine leishmaniasis is endemic are infected by Leishmania and that the prevalence of infection is much greater than the prevalence of overt Leishmania-related disease.
PMCID: PMC87775  PMID: 11158106

Results 1-14 (14)