Dingoes (Canis dingo Meyer, 1793) continue to be an important reservoir host of Dirofilaria immitis in low density housing areas in Australia
Smout, FA and Skerratt, LF and Butler, JRA and Johnson, CN and Congdon, BC, Dingoes (Canis dingo Meyer, 1793) continue to be an important reservoir host of Dirofilaria immitis in low density housing areas in Australia, Veterinary Parasitology, 215 pp. 6-10. ISSN 0304-4017 (2016) [Refereed Article]
Heartworm (Dirofilaria immitis) is a parasitic nematode responsible for canine and feline cardiopulmonary dirofilariasis and human zoonotic filariosis in both tropical and temperate regions throughout the world. Importantly, this study in the Wet Tropics of Far North Queensland found D. immitis remains at high prevalence (72.7%) in wild dingoes in low density housing areas in Australia. This prevalence is equivalent to the highest levels seen in wild dogs in Australia and represents an ongoing risk to domestic dogs, cats and humans. In contrast, in higher density residential areas prevalence was significantly lower (16.7%, p = 0.001). It is possible that chemotherapeutic heartworm (HW) prevention in domestic dogs in these higher density housing areas is helping to control infection in the resident dingo population. Five dingoes killed in council control operations around Atherton, a non-endemic HW region in the Wet Tropics, were all negative for HW likely due to the colder climate of the region restricting transmission of the disease. This survey highlights the importance of dingoes as reservoir hosts of HW disease and that the subsequent risk of infection to companion animals and humans depends on local factors such as housing density, possibly linked to chemotherapeutic HW control in domestic dogs and climate. Our findings show that veterinary clinicians need to ensure that pet owners are aware of HW disease and do not become complacent about HW chemoprohylaxis in areas which support dingo populations.
Dirofilaria immitis, dingo, canine, heartworm, zonosis, human health, wild dog