BACKGROUND: Epidemiological investigations were carried out in the Lazio Region to assess the status of canine filariosis and to evaluate the actual risk for veterinary and medical public health. METHODS: Since August 2001 to June 2003, a total of 972 canine blood samples, collected in public kennels and from private owners animals of the 5 Provinces of the Region, were tested. The presence of filarial parasites was evaluated by microscopy and bio-molecular techniques; the species identification was performed by means of the same diagnostic tools. RESULTS: A total of 17/972 (1.75%; 95%CI 1.06%-2.85%) blood samples were parasitized by D. repens,13 out them drawn by dogs resident in the Province of Roma, and 4 in the other provinces. Multivariate analysis was performed in order to evaluate the association between filariosis and risk factors. The origin from coastal territories seems to be a significant risk factor to acquire the infection. CONCLUSION: This is the first report of canine filariosis in the Lazio Region, where D. repens was before reported only in foxes. The risk of human zoonotic infection is stressed, and the absence of other filarial species is discussed.
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