: Background: Dirofilaria immitis, the agent of canine and feline heartworm disease (HWD), is a widespread mosquito-borne helminth. The true prevalence of HW infection in cats is likely underestimated due to the difficulty in establishing a definitive diagnosis. Aedes albopictus, a recognized competent vector for D. immitis, is currently considered the most invasive mosquito species worldwide and Italy presents the highest abundance of Ae. albopictus in Europe. Materials and Methods: The present study was aimed at evaluating the current seroprevalence of D. immitis antibodies in cats in Italy. Further, the ecological niche model (ENM) was applied to evaluate the potential future risk of feline HWD associated with the presence of Ae. albopictus. Results: Sera of 812 Italian cats were analyzed, and the average prevalence of D. immitis antibodies was 12%. Seropositivity was significantly associated with age (<6 years), whereas there was no association with sex or geographical area. Data obtained with the risk map showed that the highest risk of infection was found in northern inland areas and along coastal areas, whereas the lowest risk was identified at higher altitudes. The ENM correctly classified most of the areas where D. immitis seropositive cats were found, with 80.4% occurring in high and very high-risk areas. Conclusions: Results of the present study suggest that cats in Italy are exposed to D. immitis infection, and that routine prevention should be part of the general health care protocols in cats. Moreover, the resulting risk maps indicate that areas with a suitable habitat for Ae. albopictus may put cats at risk of exposure to D. immitis.

Dirofilaria immitis in Italian Cats and the Risk of Exposure by Aedes albopictus / Genchi, Marco; Escolar, Iván Rodríguez; García, Rodrigo Morchón; Semeraro, Manuela; Kramer, Laura Helen; Colombo, Liliana; Vismarra, Alice. - In: VECTOR BORNE AND ZOONOTIC DISEASES. - ISSN 1530-3667. - (2023). [10.1089/vbz.2023.0097]

Dirofilaria immitis in Italian Cats and the Risk of Exposure by Aedes albopictus

Genchi, Marco;Semeraro, Manuela;Kramer, Laura Helen;Vismarra, Alice
2023-01-01

Abstract

: Background: Dirofilaria immitis, the agent of canine and feline heartworm disease (HWD), is a widespread mosquito-borne helminth. The true prevalence of HW infection in cats is likely underestimated due to the difficulty in establishing a definitive diagnosis. Aedes albopictus, a recognized competent vector for D. immitis, is currently considered the most invasive mosquito species worldwide and Italy presents the highest abundance of Ae. albopictus in Europe. Materials and Methods: The present study was aimed at evaluating the current seroprevalence of D. immitis antibodies in cats in Italy. Further, the ecological niche model (ENM) was applied to evaluate the potential future risk of feline HWD associated with the presence of Ae. albopictus. Results: Sera of 812 Italian cats were analyzed, and the average prevalence of D. immitis antibodies was 12%. Seropositivity was significantly associated with age (<6 years), whereas there was no association with sex or geographical area. Data obtained with the risk map showed that the highest risk of infection was found in northern inland areas and along coastal areas, whereas the lowest risk was identified at higher altitudes. The ENM correctly classified most of the areas where D. immitis seropositive cats were found, with 80.4% occurring in high and very high-risk areas. Conclusions: Results of the present study suggest that cats in Italy are exposed to D. immitis infection, and that routine prevention should be part of the general health care protocols in cats. Moreover, the resulting risk maps indicate that areas with a suitable habitat for Ae. albopictus may put cats at risk of exposure to D. immitis.
2023
Dirofilaria immitis in Italian Cats and the Risk of Exposure by Aedes albopictus / Genchi, Marco; Escolar, Iván Rodríguez; García, Rodrigo Morchón; Semeraro, Manuela; Kramer, Laura Helen; Colombo, Liliana; Vismarra, Alice. - In: VECTOR BORNE AND ZOONOTIC DISEASES. - ISSN 1530-3667. - (2023). [10.1089/vbz.2023.0097]
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11381/2965913
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