The ‘dirofilaria immiti’, known as heartworm, threatens dogs in Spain. This infectious disease can cause fatigue, weakness and loss of appetite in dogs. A group of scientists from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (ULPGC), including veterinarians José Alberto Montoya and Elena Carretón, and from the Laboratory of Parasitology of the University of Salamanca, represented by Rodrigo Morchón and Iván Rodríguez Escolar, has carried out a study to sequence the progress of this disease in Spain.
The scientists analyzed 9,543 blood samples from dogs from all the provinces and autonomous cities of Spain for the detection of D. immitis antigens. The researchers found a prevalence of 6.47%. The provinces with the highest prevalence were Tenerife (17.32%), Ibiza (17.09%), Gran Canaria (16.03%) and La Palma (15.65%), followed by Cádiz (13.68%), Pontevedra (12.61%), La Gomera (11.54%), Mallorca (11.24%) and Huelva (11.11%).
They also observed prevalence rates of less than 5% in the northern peninsular provinces, as well as in the central-eastern and southeastern peninsular provinces, while the provinces of the central-west, southwest and Mediterranean coast had prevalence rates of between 5-10%.
The scientists concluded that high temperatures combined with high humidity encourage the development of certain mosquitoes that transmit heartworm, the common mosquito ‘Culex pipiens’.
The presence of positive dogs was described for the first time in provinces and islands where previously no cases of infected dogs had been reported, which “demonstrates the continuous expansion and consolidation of dirofilariosis in Spain”, the study collects.