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Concept: Angiostrongylus vasorum


BACKGROUND: Dirofilaria immitis and Angiostrongylus vasorum are both important potentially fatal canine nematodes with overlapping endemic areas, especially in Europe. The preadult and adult stages of both species are living in the Arteria pulmonalis and the right heart, and diagnostically detectable circulating parasite antigens have been demonstrated for both species. For the detection of D. immitis infections, a variety of commercial tests have been developed, however, they have not been evaluated for cross-reactions against circulating antigens of A. vasorum. METHODS: In this study, potential cross-reactions of sera from 16 dogs, which were experimentally infected with A. vasorum and which had circulating antigens as confirmed by a species-specific ELISA, were evaluated for the detection of A. vasorum antigen in six commercially available D. immitis test kits. RESULTS: In three fast tests (Witness® Dirofilaria, SensPERT® Canine Heartworm, SNAP® 4Dx® Plus), all sera were negative. One fast membrane ELISA (SNAP® HTWM RT Test) was positive with four sera (25 %), and one serum delivered a non-valid result twice. In the PetChek® HTWM PF Test, depending on the interpretation protocol, 5 or 8 dogs (31.2 – 50 %) were positive. With the DiroCHEK®-ELISA, a single A. vasorum-infected dog (6.2 %) tested positive. CONCLUSIONS: Due to potential cross-reactions with A. vasorum in commercially available test kits for the detection of D. immitis antigen, the simultaneous use of highly specific diagnostic methods for the differentiation of these two canine heart worms is recommended.

Concepts: Immune system, Antibody, Nematodes, Dog, Dirofilaria immitis, Dirofilaria, Angiostrongylus vasorum, Spirurida


SUMMARY Molecular phylogeography has revolutionised our ability to infer past biogeographic events from cross-sectional data on current parasite populations. In ecological parasitology, this approach has been used to address fundamental questions concerning host-parasite co-evolution and geographic patterns of spread, and has raised many technical issues and problems of interpretation. For applied parasitologists, the added complexity inherent in adding population genetic structure to perceived parasite distributions can sometimes seem to cloud rather than clarify approaches to control. In this paper, we use case studies firstly to illustrate the potential extent of cryptic diversity in parasite and parasitoid populations, secondly to consider how anthropogenic influences including movement of domestic animals affect the geographic distribution and host associations of parasite genotypes, and thirdly to explore the applied relevance of these processes to parasites of socio-economic importance. The contribution of phylogeographic approaches to deeper understanding of parasite biology in these cases is assessed. Thus, molecular data on the emerging parasites Angiostrongylus vasorum in dogs and wild canids, and the myiasis-causing flies Lucilia spp. in sheep and Cochliomyia hominovorax in humans, lead to clear implications for control efforts to limit global spread. Broader applications of molecular phylogeography to understanding parasite distributions in an era of rapid global change are also discussed.

Concepts: Genetics, Biology, Parasitism, Parasitoid, Phylogeography, Parasitology, Biogeography, Angiostrongylus vasorum


Angiostrongylus vasorum is a highly pathogenic metastrongylid nematode affecting dogs, which uses gastropod molluscs as intermediate hosts. The geographical distribution of the parasite appears to be heterogeneous or patchy and understanding of the factors underlying this heterogeneity is limited. In this study, we compared the species of gastropod present and the prevalence of A. vasorum along a rural-urban gradient in two cities in the south-west United Kingdom.

Concepts: Industrial Revolution, United Kingdom, Nematodes, Heterogeneity, England, Gastropoda, Angiostrongylus vasorum, Scottish Qualifications Authority


Metastrongyloid parasites represent sparsely studied parasites of dogs and cats in Germany. Recent European surveys indicate that these parasites are spreading in Europe. Actual data on prevalence of Angiostrongylus vasorum in dogs and foxes reveal several endemic foci in Germany. However, actual data on the prevalence of A. vasorum and other metastrongyloid lungworm larvae in a wide range of slug and snail intermediate hosts, such as Arion lusitanicus, are missing for Germany. To fill this gap, we conducted an epidemiological survey on native German slugs in selected regions of Hesse and Rhineland-Palatinate. The focus was on slugs, because in study areas slugs appear to be more abundant than snails. Slugs were collected throughout different seasons of the year in areas that were previously proven to be hyperendemic for A. vasorum fox infections. Overall, a total of 2701 slugs were collected and examined for lungworm larvae via artificial digestion. The number of A. vasorum larvae per slug varied considerably (1-546 larvae per specimen). Some hotspot areas with high A. vasorum prevalence in slugs (up to 19.4%) were identified. The overall A. vasorum prevalence varied with season with largest number of slugs infected in summer (9.1%) and lowest number in winter (0.8%). The current study revealed a total A. vasorum prevalence of 4.7% in slugs based on microscopic analyses. Confirmation of lungworm species was made by specific duplex-real-time PCRs. Hence, these data demonstrate that final hosts are at a permanent risk for A. vasorum infections during all seasons when living in investigated areas. Besides A. vasorum, other lungworm larvae were also detected, such as Crenosoma vulpis (the fox lungworm, 2.3%) and Aelurostrongylus abstrusus (feline lungworm, 0.2%).

Concepts: Epidemiology, Nematodes, Mollusca, Snail, Fox, Angiostrongylus vasorum, Slug, Arion lusitanicus


The gastropod-borne nematodes Angiostrongylus vasorum and Aelurostrongylus abstrusus are global causes of cardio/pulmonary diseases in dogs and cats. In the last decade, the number of reports on canine and feline lungworms has increased in several areas of Europe and North America. The unspecific clinical signs and prolonged course of these diseases often renders diagnosis challenging. Both infections are considered as emerging and underestimated causes of disease in domestic pets. In South America, little information is available on these diseases, apart from occasional reports proving the principle presence of A. vasorum and A. abstrusus. Thus, the purpose of this review is to summarize reports on infections in both domestic and wildlife animals in South America and to increase the awareness on gastropod-borne metastrongyloid parasites, which also include important zoonotic species, such as A. cantonensis and A. costaricensis. This review highlights the usefulness of diagnostic tools, such as the Baermann funnel technique, serology and PCR, and proposes to include these routinely on cases with clinical suspicion for lungworm infections. Future national epidemiological surveys are recommended to be conducted to gain a deeper insight into the actual epidemiological situation of gastropod-borne parasitoses in South America.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Disease, Infectious disease, United States, Nematodes, North America, South America, Angiostrongylus vasorum


Over a period of intervening years, the distribution of two canine cardiopulmonary metastrongylid nematodes, Angiostrongylus vasorum and Crenosoma vulpis, has been recognised in Central Europe. Here, we report the first epidemiological research conducted in red foxes from Slovakia and the potential influence of selected environmental variables on the parasites' occurrence, quantified by logistic regression. The environmental models revealed that distribution of C. vulpis is not significantly influenced by any environmental variables, and the parasite is present in the whole area under study. Models for A. vasorum revealed some weak influence of environmental variables, as it tends to occur in drier areas with lower proportion of forest. Moreover, A. vasorum shows a typical spatial clustering and occurs in endemic foci identified mainly in the eastern part of Slovakia. A cluster of A. vasorum infection foci was also found in the north-eastern region, where the average winter air temperature regularly falls below - 10 °C.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Infectious disease, Nematodes, Eastern Europe, Central Europe, Fox, Hungary, Angiostrongylus vasorum


For the first time in Sweden, Angiostrongylus vasorum was detected on the island of Sydkoster in foxes and dogs in 2003. After sporadic detection of the parasite in foxes in southern Sweden, the first positive canine faecal sample on the mainland was found in 2011. Since then a total of 2882 faecal samples have been analysed with the Baermann test at the National Veterinary Institute (SVA) during the years 2011-2015; 20 of them being positive. Contemporaneously, of over 525 fox necropsies, only three were found to be infected. To gather a more accurate knowledge of A. vasorum occurrence in Sweden, a large scale seroepidemiological survey was performed and totally 3885 serum samples from dogs were tested for both the presence of circulating antigens and of specific antibodies to A. vasorum.

Concepts: Immune system, Antibody, ELISA, Dog, Canidae, Fox, Cherie Currie, Angiostrongylus vasorum


In the last decade serological tests for detection of circulating Angiostrongylus vasorum antigen and specific antibodies have been developed and adopted for individual diagnosis and epidemiological studies in dogs. Although confirmed positive at necropsy, antigen detection was not possible in single experimentally, as well as naturally infected dogs, possibly due to immune complex formation. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of heat treatment on detection of A. vasorum antigen in sera of experimentally (n = 21, 119 follow-up sera) and naturally (n = 18) infected animals. In addition, sera of dogs showing clinical signs consistent with angiostrongylosis (n = 10), of randomly selected dogs (n = 58) and of dogs with other parasitic infections (n = 15) were evaluated. Sera were subjected to heat treatment at 100 °C after addition of 0.5 M EDTA (dilution 1:5) and tested with ELISAs for detection of circulating A. vasorum antigen before and after treatment.

Concepts: Immune system, Antibody, Epidemiology, Bacteria, Immunology, Randomness, Serology, Angiostrongylus vasorum


Angiostrongylus vasorum is a nematode residing in the heart and pulmonary vessels of dogs and wild carnivores. In Europe the red fox is its reservoir, while only three records from wolves have been published. Angiostrongylus vasorum has a worldwide distribution, and many pieces of evidence demonstrate that it is spreading from endemic areas to new ones. In Italy, A. vasorum was reported with increasing frequency in dogs and foxes in the last decades, and now it is considered endemic throughout the country. Angiostrongylus vasorum can be asymptomatic or cause respiratory and circulatory disorders, at times causing severe disseminated infections.

Concepts: Heart, Pulmonary artery, Nematodes, Dog, Canidae, Fox, Gray Wolf, Angiostrongylus vasorum


Angiostrongylus vasorum is the causative agent of canine angiostrongylosis, a severe snail-borne disease of dogs. Red foxes are important natural reservoirs of infection, and surveys of foxes provide a more objective picture of the parasite distribution. Our aim was to investigate the possibility of the presence of A. vasorum in red foxes from the western part of Romania and to analyse the risk factors related to the sex, age and geographic origin of the foxes. Between July 2016 and April 2017, 567 hunted red foxes from 10 counties of western Romania were examined by necropsy for the presence of lungworms.

Concepts: Canidae, Fox, Vulpes, Red Fox, Arctic Fox, Angiostrongylus vasorum, Foxes, 2016