Inhabitants of the Canary Islands Are at Risk of Zoonotic Infection Caused by Canine Dirofilariosis
E.D. Cabrera1; E. Carreton2; R. Morchon3; S. Falcon-Cordon2; Y. Falcon-Cordon2; F. Simon3; J.A. Montoya-Alonso2
Canine dirofilariosis (Dirofilaria immitis) is hyperendemic in the Canary Islands. Since human pulmonary dirofilariosis is an emerging zoonosis, inhabitants of the islands may be at risk of infection. This risk has been studied and confirmed only in Gran Canaria.
The aim was to complete the seroepidemiological map of dirofilariosis in the population of all the Canary Islands.
One thousand four hundred seventy-nine (1479) inhabitants of the Canary Islands were tested for D. immitis antibodies.
The overall human seroprevalence was 6.4%. By islands, Lanzarote and El Hierro presented the lowest prevalences (≤0.8%), followed by Fuerteventura (1.6%). The other islands presented prevalences from 6.2% (La Palma) to 12.7% (Tenerife). Seroprevalences were very variable inside each island, being related to the climate and demographic factors.
The prevalence is not uniform and depends on the climatic conditions and distribution of vectors. The desert climate of Lanzarote and Fuerteventura may favour the low prevalences. This is not the case for El Hierro, which presents favourable climatic conditions; the fact that it is a sparsely populated and isolated island may be the cause of the low prevalence. The highest seroprevalences corresponds to those islands with better climatic conditions and higher canine prevalences. Since the dog is the natural reservoir of the parasite, a correlation among canine prevalence and human seroprevalence is expected. The habitants of the Canary Islands are at a high risk of infection. Sanitary authorities should include dirofilariosis in the differential diagnosis of pulmonary nodules and promote awareness campaigns for the implementation of prophylactic measures in pets.