2015 - 2015
Seroprevalence of French heartworm (<i>Angiostrongylus vasorum</i>) in Swedish dogs
Angiostrongylus vasorum, the French heartworm, is a parasite of dogs described in several parts of the world, including continental Europe and the British isles. The infection has been reported in Denmark and, after the first report in 2003 on the island of Sydkoster, even in Sweden. A. vasorum was found then in canine fecal samples once in 2011 and 2012, while it was found 4 times in 2013 and in the first half of 2014.
The dog is the definitive host of A. vasorum, while snails of different species are the intermediate hosts. The disease caused by the adult worms can be either asymptomatic or quite severe and death can occur. Clinical signs (i.e tachypnoea, productive cough, recurrent syncope, painless swellings due to coagulation problems) can persist even if the parasite is removed with an effective treatment. For these reasons and since A. vasorum has a focal distribution it is relevant to know how many dogs in the population are infected (or at least exposed to the parasite) and which areas are characterized by a higher prevalence of the parasite, in order to include/exclude it in the diagnostic process.
This project is aimed at recording the prevalence of A. vasorum in Swedish dogs using methods more sensitive than the identification of larvae in the faeces, i.e. serological methods able to detect parasite antigens and antibodies developed against the parasite. Around 4000 blood samples from whole Sweden have been collected from different sources and will be analyzed in order to identify the areas where the parasite is circulating and create risk maps.