Evaluation of oxfendazole in the treatment of zoonotic Onchocerca lupi infection in dogs

Vito Colella, Carla Maia, André Pereira, Nuno Gonçalves, Marta Caruso, Coralie Martin, Luis Cardoso, Lenea Campino, Ivan Scandale, Domenico Otranto

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9 Citations (Scopus)


The genus Onchocerca encompasses parasitic nematodes including Onchocerca volvulus, causative agent of river blindness in humans, and the zoonotic Onchocerca lupi infecting dogs and cats. In dogs, O. lupi adult worms cause ocular lesions of various degrees while humans may bear the brunt of zoonotic onchocercosis with patients requiring neurosurgical intervention because of central nervous system localization of nematodes. Though the zoonotic potential of O. lupi has been well recognized from human cases in Europe, the United States and the Middle East, a proper therapy for curing this parasitic infection in dogs is lacking. To evaluate the efficacy of oxfendazole, 11 out of the 21 client-owned dogs (21/123; 17.1%) positive for skin-dwelling O. lupi microfilariae (mfs), were enrolled in the efficacy study and were treated with oxfendazole (50 mg/kg) per OS once a day for 5 (G2) or 10 (G3) consecutive days or were left untreated (G1). The efficacy of oxfendazole in the reduction of O. lupi mfs was evaluated by microfilarial count and by assessing the percentage of mfs reduction and mean microfilaricidal efficacy, whereas the efficacy in the reduction of ocular lesions was evaluated by ultrasound imaging. All dogs where subjected to follow-ups at 30 (D30), 90 (D90) and 180 (D180) days post-treatment. The percentage of reduction of mfs was 78% for G2 and 12.5% for G3 at D180. The mean microfilaricidal efficacy of oxfendazole in the treatment of canine onchocercosis by O. lupi at D30, D90 and D180 was 41%, 81% and 90%, in G2 and 40%, 65% and 70%, in G3, respectively. Retrobulbar lesions did not reduce from D0 to D180 in control group (dogs in G1), whereas all treated dogs (in G2 and G3) had slightly decreased ocular lesions. Percentage of reduction of ocular lesions by ultrasound examination was 50% and 47.5% in G2 and G3 at D180, respectively. Despite the decrease in ocular lesions in all treated dogs (G2 and G3), oxfendazole was ineffective in reducing ocular lesions and skin-dwelling O. lupi mfs in treated dogs (G2 and G3) in a six-month follow-up period. Here we discuss the need for more reliable diagnostic techniques and efficient treatment protocols to better plan future intervention strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0006218
JournalPLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018


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