Occurrence of Dirofi laria immitis (Nematoda, Onchocercidae) in Red Foxes (Vulpes vulpes) from the Suburbs of Kharkiv (Ukraine)
Dirofilariasis of animals and humans is a disease caused by nematodes of the genus Dirofilaria (Railliet et Henry, 1911), suborder Filariata (Skrjabin, 1915). The role of wild predators, particularly foxes (Vulpes vulpes) (Linnaeus, 1758) in the distribution of dirofilariasis in the world remains unclear. We have studied the occurense of D. immtis (Leidy, 1856) n a population of foxes. Twenty-seven foxes were obtained and dissected during the hunting winter season of 2019-2020 in Dergachi district, Kharkiv region of Ukraine. All 27 examined foxes were older than 1.5–2 years old, 5 of them (18.5%) were 4–5 years old. Dirofilariasis caused by Dirofilaria was found in 22.2% of foxes. The intensity of infection ranged from 2 to 4 specimens of nematodes per host. In four foxes (66.7% of infected hosts), the same number of male and female nematodes was detected, and two foxes (33.3%) had each 1 male per 2 female D. immitis. The length of D. immitis males (7 specimens) was 13.96 ± 0.29 cm and the length of females (9 specimens) was 19.58 ± 0.55 cm. Prevalence of foxes with dirofilariasis may depend on their habitat and the presence of habitats which support mosquitos (obligate biological vectors of dirofilariasis) in these areas.
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