Wolbachia pipiens, an intracellular endosymbiont bacteria of filarial nematodes, has been implicated in the pathogenesis of filarial diseases, in particular in heavy Dirofilaria spp. infections. Antibiotic therapy (doxycycline) against Wolbachia has been proven to be suitable adjunct therapy, prior to adulticide treatment of canine dirofilariosis. Despite its importance, investigation on the Wolbachia/Dirofilaria complex in Portugal had not been undertaken so far. This study reports the first detection of Wolbachia in Dirofilaria spp. infected dogs in the context of an ongoing epidemiological survey in central-south regions in the country. Wolbachia DNA was detected by PCR in 52.6% (20/38) of canine blood samples positive for Dirofilaria immitis based on parasitological (Knott's and Acid Phosphatase) and serological (Witness ® Dirofilaria) methods. No Wolbachia DNA could be detected in samples from dogs with occult infections (parasite negative but antigen positive). The lack of Wolbachia detection in some microfilaremic dogs was somewhat unexpected and needs to be elucidated in further studies, as the presence or absence of these bacteria in association with microfilaria is of importance for veterinarians in the management and control of canine dirofilariosis.
UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
- SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-Being