Four adult dogs that had spent their entire life in Hungary, were found to be infected with filaroid nematodes of the genus Onchocerca. The morphology and location of the parasites as well as pathological lesions were similar to those described earlier in the one Hungarian and five US dogs. Only moderate morphological differences were noted between the adults of Onchocerca sp. infecting dogs and O. volvulus of man or O. lienalis of cattle. Nevertheless, the morphology of microfilariae of Onchocerca from dogs is unique within the genus. Their length was less than half the length of microfilariae of other Onchocerca spp. known so far. In addition to size differences, several characteristic morphological features were observed. The unsuccessful attempt to infect dogs with O. lienalis, the absence of O. volvulus and O. lienalis in endemic regions of canine onchocercosis, the different size, morphology, and location of the adults in dogs and cattle, the exceptionally small size and unique morphology of microfilariae of Onchocerca of canids indicate that a distinct species might be responsible for canine onchocercosis. Since the larval concentration in the skin was high (50-3600 microfilariae g-1) in all affected dogs, the diagnosis prior to surgical removal of worm nodules can be based on the examination of a small skin snip collected from the head or abdominal region. Infections in dogs may provide a model to study human onchocercosis, therefore, further studies are encouraged on the feasibility of experimental infection of dogs with this Onchocerca species.
- Onchocerca spp.
ASJC Scopus subject areas