Angiostrogylus vasorum infection in dogs from the north of Portugal

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Background: Angiostrongylus vasorum (A. vasorum), French Heartworm, is a metastrongylid nematode infecting the pulmonary arteries and right heart of wild and domestic canids in various regions of the world. Global warming, changes in vector seasonal population dynamics and movements in animal population most likely play an important role in the recent rise in reports of this infection through European countries. Considering the absence of available data regarding A. vasorum infection in Portugal, the aim of this study was to determine its prevalence in domestic dogs from the North of Portugal. Methods: One single faecal sample from 165 dogs was collected, during two periods of 2011 (from February to July and from September to December). Samples were tested for the presence of first-stage larvae shed in faeces, using the modified Baermann technique. Results: The examined dog population consisted of 103 males and 62 females, of which 10 and 14 were neutered, respectively. The dogs varied in age from 8 weeks to 19 years (average 4.2 years), and 105 dogs were purebred of 32 different breeds. Of the 165 dogs, 137 were held as a pet, 21 were guard dogs, and the remaining dogs were used for hunting or as working dogs. Of the samples, 8.5% (n=14) were from dogs with clinical signs matching angiostrongylosis (cardiorespiratory or neurologic signs). A. vasorum larvae were not identified in any of the 165 samples. Conclusions: In the present study none of the evaluated dogs were positive to A. vasorum. We might have found more positive dogs if we had specifically focused on dogs with clinical signs matching angiostrongylosis. However, collecting samples from numerous apparently healthy dogs was justified because infected dogs may not show clinical signs. On the other hand, we used the modified Baermann technique to identify larvae in a single sample per dog. This technique may lack sensitivity due to intermittent faecal larval shedding. For prevalence studies sampling on three consecutive days may increase sensitivity. In addition an antigen sandwich-ELISA with high sensitivity and specificity might be used.
Dissertação de Mestrado em Ciências Veterinárias
Cão , Parasita , Pulmão , Infeção por nematodos , Angiostrongylus vasorum