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Prevalence of canine heartworm (Dirofilaria immitis) disease in dogs of central Portugal

Prevalence of canine heartworm (Dirofilaria immitis) disease in dogs of central Portugal

Parasite 21: 5

The aim of the present study was to determine the prevalence and risk factors concerning Dirofilaria immitis infection in dogs from Figueira da Foz, located in the central region of Portugal. In the period between November 2009 and January 2011, 304 blood samples were obtained from dogs over 1 year of age, with no previous history of heartworm prevention or diagnosis. Every blood sample was analyzed using varied laboratory techniques (direct microscopic evaluation of a fresh blood sample, the modified Knott technique, and the ELISA antigen detection test - IDEXX Snapp®). In the samples in which microfilaremia was detected, a histochemical technique using acid phosphatase staining was applied to identify the species of microfilariae. A total prevalence of 27.3% (83 out of 304) was found. We also found that 73.5% of all positive cases (61 out of 83) were microfilaremic, and 26.5% were occult infections (22 out of 83). By means of a histochemical technique Dirofilaria immitis was identified in 96.7% of microfilaremic samples. A multivariate model allowed us to identify the following risk factors for the presence of heartworm disease: age between 4 and 9 years, dogs living in a rural environment, large breed dogs, and living outdoors. This study shows for the first time the high prevalence of heartworm disease in a central area of Portugal and emphasizes the importance of systematic screening for this disease, as well as the need to prevent it in dogs in this area.

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Accession: 055155941

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PMID: 24534524

DOI: 10.1051/parasite/2014003

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