Updated canine infection rates for Dirofilaria immitis in areas of Brazil previously identified as having a high incidence of heartworm-infected dogsReport as inadecuate

Updated canine infection rates for Dirofilaria immitis in areas of Brazil previously identified as having a high incidence of heartworm-infected dogs - Download this document for free, or read online. Document in PDF available to download.

Parasites and Vectors

, 7:493

First Online: 07 November 2014Received: 25 August 2014Accepted: 20 October 2014


BackgroundCanine heartworm infections were frequently diagnosed in Brazil before the new millennium. After the year 2000, the frequency of diagnosis showed a sharp decline; however, a few years later, new evidence indicated that the parasite was still present and that canine infection rates seemed to be increasing. Therefore, an updated survey of canine heartworm prevalence was conducted in several locations in south, southeast, and northeast Brazil.

MethodsDogs from 15 locations having previously reported a high prevalence of heartworm infection were included in the survey according to defined criteria, including the absence of treatment with a macrocyclic lactone for at least 1 year. Blood samples from 1531 dogs were evaluated by an in-clinic immunochromatography test kit Witness Heartworm, Zoetis, USA for detection of Dirofilaria immitis antigen. At each location, epidemiologic data, including physical characteristics and clinical signs reported by owners or observed by veterinarians, were recorded on prepared forms for tabulation of results by location, clinical signs, and physical characteristics.

ResultsThe overall prevalence of canine heartworm infection was 23.1%, with evidence of heartworm-infected dogs detected in all 15 locations studied. There was a tendency for higher prevalence rates in environmentally protected areas, despite some locations having less-than-ideal environmental temperatures for survival of vector mosquitoes. Among physical characteristics, it was noted that dogs with predominantly white hair coats and residing in areas with a high ≥20% prevalence of heartworm were less likely to have heartworm infection detected by a commercial heartworm antigen test kit than were dogs with other coat colors. In general, dogs older than 2 years were more frequently positive for D. immitis antigen than were younger dogs. Clinical signs of heartworm infections were rare or owners were unable to detect them, and could not be used for reliable prediction of the presence of heartworm.

ConclusionsThese results indicate that the prevalence of D. immitis has increased in these areas of Brazil over the past few years. Small animal practitioners in these areas should include routine screening tests for heartworm infections in every dog’s annual evaluation protocol and make sure to have uninfected dogs on prevention.

KeywordsCanine antigen tests Canine heartworm Clinical signs Dirofilaria immitis Electronic supplementary materialThe online version of this article doi:10.1186-s13071-014-0493-7 contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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