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      Retrospective evaluation of vector-borne pathogens in cats living in Germany (2012–2020)

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          Abstract

          Background

          Blood-feeding arthropods can transmit parasitic, bacterial, or viral pathogens to domestic animals and wildlife. Vector-borne infections are gaining significance because of increasing travel and import of pets from abroad as well as the changing climate in Europe. The main objective of this study was to assess the percentage of cats with positive test results for selected vector-borne pathogens in Germany and explore any possible association of such results with time spent abroad.

          Methods

          This retrospective study included test results from cats included in the “Feline Travel Profile” established by the LABOKLIN laboratory at the request of veterinarians in Germany between April 2012 and March 2020. This diagnostic panel includes the direct detection of Hepatozoon spp. and Dirofilaria spp. via PCR as well as indirect detection assays (IFAT) for Ehrlichia spp. and Leishmania spp. The panel was expanded to include an IFAT for Rickettsia spp. from July 2015 onwards.

          Results

          A total of 624 cats were tested using the “Feline Travel Profile.” Serum for indirect detection assays was available for all 624 cats; EDTA samples for direct detection methods were available from 618 cats. Positive test results were as follows: Ehrlichia spp. IFAT 73 out of 624 (12%), Leishmania spp. IFAT 22 out of 624 (4%), Hepatozoon spp. PCR 53 out of 618 (9%), Dirofilaria spp. PCR 1 out of 618 cats (0.2%), and Rickettsia spp. IFAT 52 out of 467 cats (11%) tested from July 2015 onwards. Three cats had positive test results for more than one pathogen before 2015. After testing for Rickettsia spp. was included in 2015, 19 cats had positive test results for more than one pathogen ( Rickettsia spp. were involved in 14 out of these 19 cats).

          Conclusions

          At least one pathogen could be detected in 175 out of 624 cats (28%) via indirect and/or direct detection methods. Four percent had positive test results for more than one pathogen. These data emphasize the importance of considering the above-mentioned vector-borne infections as potential differential diagnoses in clinically symptomatic cats.

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          Most cited references 87

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          Transmission, reservoir hosts and control of zoonotic visceral leishmaniasis.

          Zoonotic visceral leishmaniasis (ZVL) caused by Leishmania infantum is an important disease of humans and dogs. Here we review aspects of the transmission and control of ZVL. Whilst there is clear evidence that ZVL is maintained by sandfly transmission, transmission may also occur by non-sandfly routes, such as congenital and sexual transmission. Dogs are the only confirmed primary reservoir of infection. Meta-analysis of dog studies confirms that infectiousness is higher in symptomatic infection; infectiousness is also higher in European than South American studies. A high prevalence of infection has been reported from an increasing number of domestic and wild mammals; updated host ranges are provided. The crab-eating fox Cerdocyon thous, opossums Didelphis spp., domestic cat Felis cattus, black rat Rattus rattus and humans can infect sandflies, but confirmation of these hosts as primary or secondary reservoirs requires further xenodiagnosis studies at the population level. Thus the putative sylvatic reservoir(s) of ZVL remains unknown. Review of intervention studies examining the effectiveness of current control methods highlights the lack of randomized controlled trials of both dog culling and residual insecticide spraying. Topical insecticides (deltamethrin-impregnated collars and pour-ons) have been shown to provide a high level of individual protection to treated dogs, but further community-level studies are needed.
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            Heartworm disease in animals and humans.

            Heartworm disease due to Dirofilaria immitis continues to cause severe disease and even death in dogs and other animals in many parts of the world, even though safe, highly effective and convenient preventatives have been available for the past two decades. Moreover, the parasite and vector mosquitoes continue to spread into areas where they have not been reported previously. Heartworm societies have been established in the USA and Japan and the First European Dirofilaria Days (FEDD) Conference was held in Zagreb, Croatia, in February of 2007. These organizations promote awareness, encourage research and provide updated guidelines for the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of heartworm disease. The chapter begins with a review of the biology and life cycle of the parasite. It continues with the prevalence and distribution of the disease in domestic and wild animals, with emphasis on more recent data on the spreading of the disease and the use of molecular biology techniques in vector studies. The section on pathogenesis and immunology also includes a discussion of the current knowledge of the potential role of the Wolbachia endosymbiont in inflammatory and immune responses to D. immitis infection, diagnostic use of specific immune responses to the bacteria, immunomodulatory activity and antibiotic treatment of infected animals. Canine, feline and ferret heartworm disease are updated with regard to the clinical presentation, diagnosis, prevention, therapy and management of the disease, with special emphasis on the recently described Heartworm Associated Respiratory Disease (HARD) Syndrome in cats. The section devoted to heartworm infection in humans also includes notes on other epizootic filariae, particularly D. repens in humans in Europe. The chapter concludes with a discussion on emerging strategies in heartworm treatment and control, highlighting the potential role of tetracycline antibiotics in adulticidal therapy.
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              Discrimination between six species of canine microfilariae by a single polymerase chain reaction.

              Canine dirofilariasis caused by Dirofilaria immitis is usually diagnosed by specific antigen testing and/or identification of microfilariae. However, D. immitis and at least six other filariae can produce canine microfilaremias with negative heartworm antigen tests. Discriminating these can be of clinical importance. To resolve discordant diagnoses by two diagnostic laboratories in an antigen-negative, microfilaremic dog recently imported into the US from Europe we developed a simple molecular method of identifying different microfilariae, and subsequently validated our method against six different filariae known to infect dogs by amplifying ribosomal DNA spacer sequences by polymerase chain reaction using common and species-specific primers, and sequencing the products to confirm the genotype of the filariae. We identified the filaria in this dog as D. repens. This is the first case of D. repens infection in the United States. Additionally, we examined microfilariae from five additional antigen-negative, microfilaremic dogs and successfully identified the infecting parasite in each case. Our diagnoses differed from the initial morphological diagnosis in three of these cases, demonstrating the inaccuracy of morphological diagnosis. In each case, microfilariae identified morphologically as A. reconditum were identified as D. immitis by molecular methods. Finally, we demonstrated that our PCR method should amplify DNA from at least two additional filariae (Onchocerca and Mansonella), suggesting that this method may be suitable for genotyping all members of the family Onchocercidae.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                ingo.schaefer@fu-berlin.de
                barbara.kohn@fu-berlin.de
                maria.volkmann@fu-berlin.de
                mueller@laboklin.com
                Journal
                Parasit Vectors
                Parasit Vectors
                Parasites & Vectors
                BioMed Central (London )
                1756-3305
                25 February 2021
                25 February 2021
                2021
                : 14
                Affiliations
                [1 ]LABOKLIN GmbH and Co. KG, Bad Kissingen, Germany
                [2 ]GRID grid.14095.39, ISNI 0000 0000 9116 4836, Clinic for Small Animals, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, , Freie Universität Berlin, ; Berlin, Germany
                [3 ]GRID grid.14095.39, ISNI 0000 0000 9116 4836, Institute of Veterinary Epidemiology and Biostatistics, , Freie Universität Berlin, ; Berlin, Germany
                Article
                4628
                10.1186/s13071-021-04628-2
                7905428
                © The Author(s) 2021

                Open AccessThis article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.

                Categories
                Research
                Custom metadata
                © The Author(s) 2021

                Parasitology

                laboratory diagnostics, feline, arthropod-transmitted infections

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