The prevalence of Dirofilaria repens in cats, healthy dogs and dogs with concurrent babesiosis in an expansion zone in central Europe


BACKGROUND Dirofilaria repens is a mosquito-transmitted, filarial nematode parasitizing dogs, cats and other carnivores. Recently, this parasite has spread in central Europe, including Poland. The aim of the present study was to estimate the prevalence of D. repens in cats and dogs in different regions of the country and to investigate the occurrence and consequences of co-infection with another fast-spreading vector-borne parasite, Babesia canis. RESULTS In the period 2013-2015, 147 blood samples from cats from central Poland and 257 blood samples from dogs from central, northern, southern and western Poland were collected. Prevalence of D. repens was determined by amplification and sequencing of the 12S rDNA gene fragment. Among dogs, 94 samples originated from clinically healthy dogs from central Poland (Masovia) and 58 samples originated from dogs that were infected with B. canis. Prevalence of D. repens was compared between these two groups of dogs. For the first time D. repens was identified in a cat from central Europe (0.7 % [95 % CL: 0-4.1 %]). The DNA of the filarial endosymbiotic bacterium Wolbachia was detected in two cats (1.4 % [95 % CL: 0-5.5 %]). In dogs, the parasite was detected only in samples from central Poland (Masovia) (local prevalence = 38 % [95 % CL: 25.9-51.8 %]). Prevalence of D. repens was significantly higher in dogs with babesiosis (90 % [95 % CL: 81.6-94.5 %]). Co-infections of D. repens and B. canis were confirmed by sequencing in 30 dogs with babesiosis, but no co-infections were identified in healthy dogs from Masovia. Statistical analyses of blood parameters revealed that dogs with co-infections suffered more severe anemia and thrombocytopenia, but presented milder changes in biochemical parameters (i.e. less elevated concentration of alkaline phosphatase [ALP] and serum urea) suggesting lower risk of hepatic or renal failure in comparison to dogs infected only with B. canis. CONCLUSIONS These findings are important due to the spread of dirofilariosis and babesiosis in central Europe, as microfilaraemic dogs seem to be more prone to babesiosis. The possible protective effect of the nematode infection against hepatic or renal failure in canine babesiosis and its mechanisms require further investigations.

DOI: 10.1186/s12917-016-0816-3

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@inproceedings{Bajer2016ThePO, title={The prevalence of Dirofilaria repens in cats, healthy dogs and dogs with concurrent babesiosis in an expansion zone in central Europe}, author={Anna Bajer and Anna Rodo and Ewa J. Mierzejewska and Katarzyna Tołkacz and Renata Welc-Falęciak}, booktitle={BMC veterinary research}, year={2016} }