First serological evidence of infections with selected vector-borne pathogens in dogs in Kosovo
Canine vector-borne pathogens are a group of widespread microorganisms and nematodes transmitted by arthropods that do not only impact dog health but may also pose a health risk to humans as many of them are zoonotic. As no data exist on the presence of canine vector-borne pathogens in Kosovo, we here present a first study on the seroprevalence of selected vector-borne pathogens, the dog heartworm Dirofilaria immitis and the bacteria Anaplasma spp., Ehrlichia spp. and Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato. The study was carried out from July to October 2019 in all regions of Kosovo and included 149 clinically healthy dogs (84 owned, 40 sheltered and 25 free-ranging). Blood samples collected from each individual were tested using a commercially available rapid multiplex enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. In total, 37.6% of the examined dogs were seropositive for one or more of the target pathogens. Most frequently, antibodies were found against Anaplasma spp. (24.8% of the dogs tested), followed by antigen detection of D. immitis (14.8%) and antibodies of B. burgdorferi s.l. (1.3%). The lowest antibody prevalence (0.7%) showed E. canis where only one dog was found positive. This preliminary study demonstrates the circulation of several zoonotic vector-borne pathogens in natural cycles involving dogs in Kosovo. It should trigger studies on infection prevalences in humans and initiate vector surveillance programmes in order to manage and control transmission and the diseases associated with the pathogens.