Background: Monthly topical and sustained-release injectable formulations of moxidectin are currently marketed; however, an oral formulation, while approved at a dose of 3 μg/kg, is not currently marketed in the United States. Although resistance of heartworms to all macrocyclic lactone (ML) heartworm preventives (ivermectin, milbemycin, selamectin and moxidectin) has been demonstrated, to date no data have been reported on the effectiveness of oral moxidectin against recent isolates of Dirofilaria immitis. Methods: A total of nine studies were conducted to determine the efficacy of moxidectin against a range of older and recently sourced heartworm isolates. Dogs (groups of three to eight) were inoculated with 50 D. immitis infective larvae (L3) from nine different isolates (MP3, Michigan, JYD-34, ZoeMO-2012, ZoeKy-2013, ZoeLA-2013, GCFL-2014, AMAL-2014 and ZoeAL-2015) and treated 28-30 days later with single oral doses of 3 μg/kg of moxidectin. Additionally, one group of dogs that was inoculated with JYD-34 was treated monthly for 3 consecutive months beginning 30 days post inoculation. Dogs were held for approximately 4 months after the initial (or only) treatment and then necropsied for recovery of adult heartworms. Results: A single dose of 3 μg/kg of moxidectin was 100% effective in preventing the development of five of nine heartworm isolates (MP3, Michigan, ZoeKy, GCFL and ZoeAL isolates), confirming their susceptibility to oral moxidectin at this dose. MP3 and Michigan are isolates sourced from the field more than 9 years ago, while ZoeKy, ZoeAL and GCFL were isolated from the field within the past 2 to 3 years. Against JYD-34, ZoeMO, ZoeLA and AMAL isolates, a single dose of 3 μg/kg of moxidectin was not completely effective, with efficacies of 19%, 82%, 54% and 62%, respectively, demonstrating resistance of these heartworm isolates to oral moxidectin at this dosage. Three consecutive monthly doses of 3 μg/kg of moxidectin were also incompletely effective against the JYD-34 isolate, with an efficacy of 44%. JYD-34 was originally isolated in 2010, while ZoeMO, ZoeLA and AMAL were isolated within the past 2 to 3 years. Conclusions: A single oral dose (3 μg/mg) of moxidectin was 100% effective in preventing the development of ML-susceptible heartworm isolates while being incompletely effective against ML-resistant isolates.
McTier, T. L., Six, R. H., Pullins, A., Chapin, S., McCall, J. W., Rugg, D., … Woods, D. J. (2017). Efficacy of oral moxidectin against susceptible and resistant isolates of Dirofilaria immitis in dogs. Parasites and Vectors, 10. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13071-017-2429-5