Background: Wild carnivores such as the grey wolf (Canis lupus), red fox (Vulpes vulpes) and golden jackal (Canis aureus) are recognized hosts of Dirofilaria immitis. However, few studies have focused on their actual role in the epidemiology of heartworm infection. This study describes the prevalence and distribution of D. immitis in wolves in a heartworm-endemic area in northern Italy where wolves have recently returned after long-time eradication, and investigates the fertility status of the collected adult nematodes. Methods: In the frame of a long-term wolf monitoring programme in northwestern Italy, 210 wolf carcasses from four provinces were inspected for the presence of filarioid nematodes in the right heart and pulmonary arteries. Female heartworms were measured, and their uterine content analyzed according to a previously described "embryogram"technique. Results: Three wolves, all originating from a single province (Alessandria), were positive for D. immitis (1.42%, 95% CI: 0.48-4.11%, in the whole study area; 13.6%, 95% CI: 4.7-33.3%, limited to the single province from which infected wolves originated). Mean intensity was 5 worms (range: 3-7) and the female worms measured 21-28 cm in length. Six out of 9 female worms harbored uterine microfilariae: 5 were classified as gravid; 1 showed a "discontinuous gradient"; and 3 were non-gravid. Conclusions: The present data show that heartworm infection is already prevalent in wolves that have recolonized the known heartworm-endemic area. Based on "embryogram"results, wolves were shown suitable heartworm hosts. Interestingly, investigated wolves appeared similarly exposed to heartworm infection as sympatric unprotected dogs (owned dogs that have never received any heartworm prevention treatment) sampled at the beginning of the wolf return process.[Figure not available: see fulltext.]

Dirofilaria immitis in wolves recolonizing northern Italy: are wolves competent hosts?

Moroni B.;Rossi L.;Meneguz P. G.;Marucco F.;Tizzani P.
2020

Abstract

Background: Wild carnivores such as the grey wolf (Canis lupus), red fox (Vulpes vulpes) and golden jackal (Canis aureus) are recognized hosts of Dirofilaria immitis. However, few studies have focused on their actual role in the epidemiology of heartworm infection. This study describes the prevalence and distribution of D. immitis in wolves in a heartworm-endemic area in northern Italy where wolves have recently returned after long-time eradication, and investigates the fertility status of the collected adult nematodes. Methods: In the frame of a long-term wolf monitoring programme in northwestern Italy, 210 wolf carcasses from four provinces were inspected for the presence of filarioid nematodes in the right heart and pulmonary arteries. Female heartworms were measured, and their uterine content analyzed according to a previously described "embryogram"technique. Results: Three wolves, all originating from a single province (Alessandria), were positive for D. immitis (1.42%, 95% CI: 0.48-4.11%, in the whole study area; 13.6%, 95% CI: 4.7-33.3%, limited to the single province from which infected wolves originated). Mean intensity was 5 worms (range: 3-7) and the female worms measured 21-28 cm in length. Six out of 9 female worms harbored uterine microfilariae: 5 were classified as gravid; 1 showed a "discontinuous gradient"; and 3 were non-gravid. Conclusions: The present data show that heartworm infection is already prevalent in wolves that have recolonized the known heartworm-endemic area. Based on "embryogram"results, wolves were shown suitable heartworm hosts. Interestingly, investigated wolves appeared similarly exposed to heartworm infection as sympatric unprotected dogs (owned dogs that have never received any heartworm prevention treatment) sampled at the beginning of the wolf return process.[Figure not available: see fulltext.]
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Dirofilaria immitis; Dirofilariasis; Embryogram; Heartworm; Wildlife; Wolf
Moroni B.; Rossi L.; Meneguz P.G.; Orusa R.; Zoppi S.; Robetto S.; Marucco F.; Tizzani P.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/2318/1770113
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