Association between vector-borne pathogen seroprevalence in shelter-housed and owned dog populations in the contiguous United States of Americaby CAPC Vet
Domestic dogs are susceptible to numerous vector-borne pathogens that are of significant importance for their health. In addition to being of veterinary importance, many of these pathogens are zoonotic and thus may pose a risk to human health. In the USA, owned dogs are commonly screened for exposure to or infection with several canine vector-borne pathogens. Although the screening data are widely available to show areas where infections are being diagnosed, testing of owned dogs is expected to underestimate the actual prevalence in dogs that have no access to veterinary care. The goal of this study was to measure the association between the widely available data from a perceived low-risk population with temporally and spatially collected data from shelter-housed dog populations. These data were then used to extrapolate the prevalence in dogs that generally lack veterinary care. The focus pathogens included Dirofilaria immitis, Ehrlichia spp., Anaplasma spp., and Borrelia burgdorferi. There was a linear association between the prevalence of selected vector-borne pathogens in shelter-housed and owned dog populations and, generally, the data suggested that prevalence of heartworm (D. immitis) infection and seroprevalence of Ehrlichia spp. and B. burgdorferi are higher in shelter-housed dogs, regardless of their location, compared with the owned population. The seroprevalence of Anaplasma spp. was predicted to be higher in areas that have very low to low seroprevalence, but unexpectedly, in areas of higher seroprevalence within the owned population, the seroprevalence was expected to be lower in the shelter-housed dog population. If shelters and veterinarians make decisions to not screen dogs based on the known seroprevalence of the owned group, they are likely underestimating the risk of exposure. This is especially true for heartworm. With this new estimate of the seroprevalence in shelter-housed dogs throughout the USA, shelters and veterinarians can make evidence-based informed decisions on whether testing and screening for these pathogens is appropriate for their local dog population. This work represents an important step in understanding the relationships in the seroprevalences of vector-borne pathogens between shelter-housed and owned dogs, and provides valuable data on the risk of vector-borne diseases in dogs.
Jenna R. Gettings1, Christopher S. McMahan2, Christopher A. Cleveland1, Andrea Varela‑Stokes3,9, Kris Hubbard4, Sarah A. Hamer5, Heather S. Walden6 and Michael J. Yabsley1,7,8*
1 Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study, Department of Population Health, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia 30602, USA.
2 School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences, Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina 29634, USA.
3 Department of Comparative Biomedical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Mississippi State University, Starkville, Mississippi 39762, USA.
4 Department of Pathobiology and Population Medicine, Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Mississippi 39762, USA.
5 Department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences, School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas 77843, USA.
6 Department of Comparative, Diagnostic and Population Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32608, USA.
7 Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia 30602, USA.
8 Center for the Ecology of Infectious Diseases, University of Georgia, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia 30602, USA.
9 Department of Comparative Pathobiology, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, North Grafton, MA 01536, USA.
Gettings, J.R., McMahan, C.S., Cleveland, C.A. et al. Association between vector-borne pathogen seroprevalence in shelter-housed and owned dog populations in the contiguous United States of America. Parasites Vectors 16, 405 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13071...