Detailed epidemiological survey on distribution of fox tapeworm Echinococcus multilocularis was carried out in the territory of Slovakia between 2000 and 2010. A total of 4 761 red foxes from all districts of Slovakia were investigated using modified sedimentation and counting method. E. multilocularis was found in small intestines of 1 441 animals that represent an overall prevalence of 30.3 %. The number of tapeworms found in individual foxes varied between 1 and 245 000 specimens with mean worm burden of 1 777. The results of decennial epizootological research confirmed the existence of highly endemic localities with E. multilocularis occurrence in northern regions of Slovakia. Till today, 16 human cases of alveolar echinococcosis were registered whereas 14 of them were diagnosed in patients living in endemic localities.
Dirofilariosis belongs to zoonotic vector-borne diseases with fastest spread into new areas caused by extreme weather and seasonal changes in climate. In Slovakia, Dirofilaria spp. parasites affect more than 30 % of dogs living in endemic regions in southern parts of territory, however, data on wildlife circulation of this parasite are still scarce. In order to clarify the role of red fox (Vulpes vulpes) as the most abundant canid species in Europe in maintaining the parasite in natural foci, an initial survey of dirofilariosis in this carnivore species was conducted in Slovakia. The samples of 183 red foxes hunted in 2007 - 2009 in regions of South-Eastern and Northern Slovakia with different geographical and climate characteristics were examined by means of PCR method using specific D. repens, D. immitis and Acantocheilonema recognitum primers. The DNA was isolated from spleen samples using commercial kit and PCR approach was used for diagnostics. After amplification selected products were purified and sequenced to elucidate any homologies with previously deposited sequences in Gen Bank. The results showed 105 out of 183 examined specimens (57.4 %) being infected, with great regional differences in prevalence. Phylogenetic relationships within Dirofilaria species indicate that obtained isolates belong to D. repens. The results confirmed the role of red foxes as the reservoir of parasite. Herein, epidemiological factors that may be coherent with the Dirofilaria parasites distribution and circulation in wildlife and implications in risk assessment and prevention for domestic animals and human are discussed.
In Central Europe, several new endemic regions of subcutaneous dirofilariosis caused by filarial nematode Dirofilaria repens were identified during recent years. Among those countries is also Slovakia, where the infection in dogs was recorded for the first time in 2005. We summarize here the activities intended to increase the veterinarian’s awareness of dirofilariosis and problems connected with establishing cooperation in monitoring of the infection in Slovakia. We also present the results of the questionnaire survey of public (foremost dog breeders and owners) knowledge on dirofilariosis.
Our experience shows that despite the fact that the disease was discovered in Slovakia already 6 years ago, veterinarians still do not attach adequate importance and attention to it. Out of over 540 veterinarians, who have been repeatedly requested to cooperate, only 26 were willing to engage in the monitoring programme. Surprisingly, we noticed much higher interest from the general public and dog owners: 53.1 % of responders indicated that they had already heard about dirofilariosis and 45.2 % of them knew about the risk of transmission to humans. But as many as 78.9 % of animal owners pointed out, that they were not informed by their veterinarian about the possibilities of testing and prevention.
Nevertheless, in spite of multiple negative experiences, it is necessary to continue the monitoring of dirofilariosis given that the real distribution of the parasite in Slovakia is still unknown, which prevents the introduction of effective preventive measures.
The presented clinical observation shows an atypical case of Angiostrongylus vasorum intraocular infection in an 18-month-old male beagle from north-eastern Slovakia. The dog presented with a motile worm in the anterior chamber of the right eye. No ocular signs or symptoms of a systemic disease were observed. The faecal examination using Baermann´s technique and fl otation was negative. Diagnosis was established following surgical removal of the worm. The specimen was determined as an A. vasorum female based on morphological features and confirmed by means of PCR technique and sequencing. To the best of our knowledge, the presented manifestation is the first ocular case of angiostrongylosis with absence of typical symptoms or signs of the disease.
In recent years Angiostrongylus vasorum has become another important heart parasite of dogs besides Dirofilaria immitis, with intense spread into new areas of Europe. The first two cases of canine angiostrongylosis in Slovakia were observed in 2013, demonstrating that this life-threatening parasitic disease of dogs has expanded into this territory too. One year after the first A. vasorum findings, a serological survey was conducted to assess the current distribution of this parasitic infection in dogs from Slovakia. Serum samples from 225 dogs were collected from 29 veterinary practices situated in 22 districts of Slovakia and tested by ELISA for the presence of circulating A. vasorum antigens and additionally for the detection of specific antibodies against A. vasorum. Fourteen samples (6.22 %) were seropositive in at least one ELISA. Of these, 7 dogs (3.11 %) were only antibody-positive and 4 dogs (1.78 %) were positive only for circulating A. vasorum antigen. Three animals out of 225 examined (1.33 %) were positive in both ELISAs
During the past few years, several localities with increasing Dirofilaria immitis occurrences have been identified in Slovakia; particularly in areas regarded as endemic for Dirofilaria repens up until now. In terms of that, dogs with clinically manifested heartworm disease have been referred to the veterinary ambulances more frequently. We report in this study, two autochthonous cases of D. immitisinfections diagnosed in two seven-year-old siblings of Tibetan Mastiff dogs from the Košice region of south-eastern Slovakia. The course of the disease in both dogs were very different. The female dog did not manifest any unusual findings, however the male dog exhibited severe clinical signs of heartworm disease that lead to his death. The subsequent autopsy revealed adult D. immitis worms in the right heart ventricle and pulmonary arteries.
Dogs serve as the vectors of serious parasitic diseases with a zoonotic character. In a one-year-study, we collected and examined 752 faeces of dogs. In these faecal samples, 11 different species of intestinal endoparasites were detected, as follows: Toxocara spp. eggs (21.9 %), eggs from the family Ancylostomatidae (18.4 %), coccidia oocysts (10.4 %), eggs of Trichuris spp. (10.0 %), Toxascaris leonina (7.3 %), Capillaria spp. (5.9 %), Taenia type eggs (3.2 %) and Giardia spp. cysts (1.6 %). Echinococcus multilocularis was detected in one sample. Toxocara spp. eggs were dominant in all dog categories, but in hunting dogs they occurred at the highest rate (45.1 %). Faecal samples of dogs from rural ecosystems showed 66.0 % prevalence of intestinal helminths. Presence of Toxocara spp. eggs was found in 25.0 % of sand samples.
Due to specific geographical localization, climatic and geomorphologic conditions, several serious parasitic diseases circulate in the territory of the Slovak Republic that makes this area an ideal model territory of the central European red fox system. The red fox is an important reservoir host of parasites, which can be spread to another animals and humans. Our study was aimed at determining the current prevalence of certain parasites in red foxes from the entire territory of the Slovak Republic and identifies some ecological factors influencing their epidemiology. Within the first systematic investigation of red foxes carried out between the years 2000 and 2006 in total 4026 foxes were examined for Echinococcus multilocularis (prevalence 31.1 %) and 4699 foxes were investigated for the presence of Trichinella spp. larvae (10.4 % infected). The results of the next separate study revealed that 83.3 % of 1198 red foxes in the Slovak Republic had coccidian oocysts and helminth eggs in their faeces. Fifteen helminth species including two trematode, four cestode and nine nematode species were detected by coprological examination. Nine of these parasite taxa have zoonotic potential: Capillaria spp. (prevalence 22.4 %), Ancylostoma caninum (18.1 %), Toxocara canis (12.5 %), Taenia spp. (12.2 %), Mesocestoides spp. (5.8 %), Strongyloides stercoralis (1.6 %), Hymenolepis diminuta (0.6 %), Dipylidium caninum (0.4 %) and Opisthorchis felineus (0.3 %). Toxascaris leonina was the most common helminth species found in this survey (42.9 %).
Red fox (Vulpes vulpes) presents major wildlife reservoir of parasitozoonoses, transmissible to humans and domestic animals. The study was aimed to find out the effect of anthelmintic baits on the occurrence of Echinococcus multilocularis and other intestinal helminths in red foxes. In two bait areas (B1 and B2) 20 baits per km2 were distributed monthly between August 2004 and April 2005. Fox fecal samples were collected in both bait areas and two control areas (C1 and C2) between August 2004 and August 2005. In bait area B1 the decrease of parasite species number, decrease of their prevalence and prevalence of E. multilocularis was observed. No significant decline was observed in bait area B2, probably due to consumption of baits by wild boars. Bait distribution represents the possibility of reduction of environmental contamination with parasites and their propagation stages. Especially on the periphery of towns and villages and in recreational areas it seems to be suitable way of human health protection.
A total of 74 European brown hares (Lepus europaeus Pallas, 1778), hunted during the winter seasons of 2006 and 2007, were examined by dissection for the presence of helminths and coprologically for protozoa. The animals came from five districts with a high population density of this species. Our results revealed 54.5 % of specimens being infected with one or more helminth species and a high prevalence of eimeriid coccidia (91.89 %). The most prevalent helminth species was Trichuris leporis (55.41 %). Lower prevalence was found for Passalurus ambiguus (12.16 %) and Trichostrongylus retortaeformis (6.76 %). The intensity of infection was low for all parasite species. As for coccidia, Eimeria semisculpta (74.35 %) and E. leporis (61.54%) were recorded in all districts. Other coccidia showed lower prevalence rates: E. robertsoni (15.38 %), E. europaea (12.82 %), E. babatica (12.82 %), E. hungarica (5.13 %) and E. towsendi (2.56 %), occurring only in some districts. The highest infection rate was observed in E. semisculpta, 7657.8 oocysts per gram of faeces (OPG). The potential effect of protozoan infection on hare mortality is discussed.