Presently, 45% of the total human population of Europe, as well as their domestic and companion animals, are exposed to the risk of vector-borne helminths (VBH) causing diseases. A plethora of intrinsic biological and extrinsic factors affect the relationship among helminths, vectors and animal hosts, in a constantly changing environment. Although canine dirofilarioses by Dirofilaria immitis and Dirofilaria repens are key examples of the success of VBH spreading into non-endemic areas, another example is represented by Thelazia callipaeda eyeworm, an emergent pathogen of dogs, cats and humans in several regions of Europe. The recent finding of Onchocerca lupi causing canine and human infestation in Europe and overseas renders the picture of VBH even more complicated. Similarly, tick-transmitted filarioids of the genus Cercopithifilaria infesting the skin of dogs were recently shown to be widespread in Europe. Although for most of the VBH above there is an increasing accumulation of research data on their distribution at national level, the overall impact of the diseases they cause in dogs and humans is not fully recognised in many aspects. This review investigates the reasons underlying the increasing trend in distribution of VBH in Europe and discusses the diagnostic and control strategies currently available. In addition, this article provides the authors’ opinion on some topics related to VBH that would deserve further scientific investigation.
BackgroundThis study was aimed at investigating the distribution of a Cercopithifilaria sp. sensu Otranto et al., 2011 with dermal microfilariae recently identified in a dog from Sicily (Italy). A large epidemiological survey was conducted by examining skin samples (n = 917) and ticks (n = 890) collected from dogs at different time points in Italy, central Spain and eastern Greece.ResultsThe overall prevalence of Cercopithifilaria sp. in the sampled animal populations was 13.9% and 10.5% by microscopy of skin sediments and by PCR on skin samples, respectively. Up to 21.6% and 45.5% of dogs in Spain were positive by microscopical examination and by PCR. Cumulative incidence rates ranging from 7.7% to 13.9% were estimated in dogs from two sites in Italy. A low level of agreement between the two diagnostic tests (microscopical examination and PCR) was recorded in sites where samples were processed in parallel. Infestation rate as determined by tick dissection (from 5.2% to 16.7%) was higher than that detected by PCR (from 0% to 3.9%); tick infestation was significantly associated with Cercopithifilaria sp. infestation in dogs from two out of four sites. Developing larvae found in ticks were morphometrically studied and as many as 1469 larvae were found in a single tick.ConclusionsOur data suggest that, in addition to the most common species of filarioids known to infest dogs (i.e., Dirofilaria immitis, Dirofilaria repens and Acanthocheilonema reconditum), Cercopithifilaria sp. with dermal microfilariae should be considered due to its widespread distribution in southern Europe and high frequency in tick-exposed dogs.
The brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus) is the most widespread tick in the world and a well-recognized vector of many pathogens affecting dogs and occasionally humans. This tick can be found on dogs living in both urban and rural areas, being highly adapted to live within human dwellings and being active throughout the year not only in tropical and subtropical regions, but also in some temperate areas. Depending on factors such as climate and host availability, Rh. sanguineus can complete up to four generations per year. Recent studies have demonstrated that ticks exposed to high temperatures attach and feed on humans and rabbits more rapidly. This observation suggests that the risk of human parasitism by Rh. sanguineus could increase in areas experiencing warmer and/or longer summers, consequently increasing the risk of transmission of zoonotic agents (e.g., Rickettsia conorii and Rickettsia rickettsii). In the present article, some aspects of the biology and ecology of Rh. sanguineus ticks are discussed including the possible impact of current climate changes on populations of this tick around the world.
BackgroundThe taxonomic status of the brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus sensu stricto), which has long been regarded as the most widespread tick worldwide and a vector of many pathogens to dogs and humans, is currently under dispute.MethodsWe conducted a comprehensive morphological and genetic study of 278 representative specimens, which belonged to different species (i.e., Rhipicephalus bursa, R. guilhoni, R. microplus, R. muhsamae, R. pusillus, R. sanguineus sensu lato, and R. turanicus) collected from Europe, Asia, Americas, and Oceania. After detailed morphological examination, ticks were molecularly processed for the analysis of partial mitochondrial (16S rDNA, 12S rDNA, and cox1) gene sequences.ResultsIn addition to R. sanguineus s.l. and R. turanicus, three different operational taxonomic units (namely, R. sp. I, R. sp. II, and R. sp. III) were found on dogs. These operational taxonomical units were morphologically and genetically different from R. sanguineus s.l. and R. turanicus. Ticks identified as R. sanguineus s.l., which corresponds to the so-called “tropical species” (=northern lineage), were found in all continents and genetically it represents a sister group of R. guilhoni. R. turanicus was found on a wide range of hosts in Italy and also on dogs in Greece.ConclusionsThe tropical species and the temperate species (=southern lineage) are paraphyletic groups. The occurrence of R. turanicus in the Mediterranean region is confirmed. A consensual re-description of R. sanguineus s.s. and R. turanicus will be necessary to solve the taxonomic problems within the so-called R. sanguineus group.
Canine vector-borne diseases (CVBDs) comprise a group of globally distributed and rapidly spreading illnesses that are caused by a range of pathogens transmitted by arthropods including ticks, fleas, mosquitoes and phlebotomine sandflies. In addition to their veterinary importance, some CVBD-causing pathogens are of major zoonotic concern. Recent studies using sophisticated and advanced methodologies and technologies have provided new insights into the epidemiology of many CVBDs. This review is the first of two articles and focuses on the zoonotic relevance of CVBDs, the significance of co-infection and the role of infected but clinically healthy dogs in spreading different pathogens among human and canine populations.
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