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Mosquito-borne heartworm Dirofilaria immitis in dogs from Australia

Mosquito-borne heartworm Dirofilaria immitis in dogs from Australia

Parasites and Vectors 9(1): 535

Heartworm (Dirofilaria immitis) in dogs is considered endemic in Australia, but the clinical heartworm disease caused by the heartworm is rare and prevalence is low. The mainstream prevention of the heartworm is based on macrocyclic lactone (ML) administration. The aim of this study was to confirm endemism of the heartworm under current Australian conditions using a cohort of recent microfilaria-positive dogs which were on variable heartworm prevention. A hotspot of canine heartworm antigen-positive and microfilaria-positive dogs has been detected recently in Queensland, Australia. Blood samples from 39 dogs from Queensland and two dogs from New South Wales were investigated for canine filarioids. Rapid antigen diagnostic tests capable of detection of D. immitis and real-time PCR for quantification and differentiation between D. immitis from Acanthocheilonema reconditum with quantification of microfilariae in canine blood samples, together with D. immitis specific real-time PCR assay, were applied to microfilaria-positive dogs. The P-glycoprotein genotype was determined to test whether Australian-sourced heartworm shared the same genetic markers as those suspected of ML-resistance in North America. Only D. immitis was detected in the samples from Queensland and New South Wales, Australia. Using high resolution melt real-time PCR and D. immitis specific real-time PCR, the calculated microfilaria concentration ranged from 1 to 44,957 microfilariae/ml and from 7 to 60,526 microfilariae/ml, respectively. DNA sequencing of the PCR products confirmed D. immitis. Fifteen of the examined dogs were on putative, rigorous ML prevention. For the remaining dogs, compliance with heartworm prevention was unknown or reported as inconsistent. Wild-type genotype AA-GG of the P-glycoprotein locus of D. immitis sequence has been obtained for three blood samples. Due to the incomplete history, any suggestion of a loss of efficacy of MLs must be treated as 'remotely possible'. In the immediate future, records of preventative administration and annual antigen testing would be required to determine any problems with the efficacy of preventatives. The prevalence of canine heartworm in Australia remains poorly understood. It is generally assumed to be low by veterinary practitioners. The localised increase in the study area confirms endemism of canine heartworm and a requirement for ongoing vigilance through annual heartworm testing to better understand the changing distribution of canine heartworm, client compliance, as well as to detect any change in ML-susceptibility.

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Accession: 058350621

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 27717406

DOI: 10.1186/s13071-016-1821-x

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