The first seroepidemiological survey for Angiostrongylus vasorum in domestic dogs from Romania
Background Angiostrongylus vasorum is a metastrongyloid nematode localized in the right heart and the pulmonary arteries of domestic dogs. The number of reports in Europe has recently increased, presumably as a consequence of a growing awareness among clinicians, animal owners and researchers, but also due to a growing incidence and territorial spread. So far, no studies have been conducted to assess the prevalence and distribution of A. vasorum in domestic dogs in Romania, and the awareness among veterinarians is limited or absent. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the countrywide seroprevalence of circulating antigens of A. vasorum and specific antibodies against A. vasorum in domestic dogs from Romania. Methods Between November 2016 and July 2017, blood was sampled from a total of 1545 domestic dogs from 23 counties of Romania. Details about their gender, age, breed, housing, use and origin were collected. All serum samples were tested for the presence of A. vasorum circulating antigens (AG) using monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies in a sandwich ELISA. Additionally, a sandwich ELISA using A. vasorum adult somatic antigen purified by monoclonal antibodies was used for specific antibody (AB) detection. Results A total of 33 dogs (2.14%, 95% CI: 1.82–3.56%) were seropositive for A. vasorum antigen or antibodies against the parasite. Three dogs were positive for antigen only (0.19%, 95% CI: 0.07–0.57%) and 30 dogs (1.94%, 95% CI: 1.36–2.76%) were positive for antibodies only. No dog was positive for both tests. The overall prevalence (AB or AG) and the AB prevalence were significantly higher in pure breed dogs compared to mixed breeds and mongrel dogs (P < 0.05) and in shepherd dogs compared to other groups (P < 0.05). There was no significant difference between males and females, between urban and rural dogs, between dogs with unrestricted access and with restricted access to the environment, and between dogs living outdoors and indoors. Conclusions Our data suggest that the disease is present in Romania in dogs, as it was previously demonstrated in foxes. However, so far, no clinical case has been reported in the country and this may be related to a low awareness among vets.