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Communication

Dirofilaria immitis Could Be a Risk Factor for the Development of Allergic Diseases in Humans

1
Research Institute of Biomedical and Health Sciences (IUIBS), University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, 35016 Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain
2
Animal and Human Dirofilariosis Group, Laboratory of Parasitology, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Salamanca, 37007 Salamanca, Spain
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2020, 10(10), 1847; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10101847
Received: 13 July 2020 / Revised: 5 October 2020 / Accepted: 7 October 2020 / Published: 11 October 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Human-Animal Interactions, Animal Behaviour and Emotion)
Heartworm is a parasitic infection transmitted by mosquitoes to animals and humans. The risk of human infections is high in those areas with high canine prevalence, such as the Canary Islands. In these islands, there is also a high number of allergic inhabitants. Since some studies have shown a relationship between parasite infections and development of allergies, the aim of this study was to evaluate whether exposure to heartworm may contribute to the development of allergies. A survey carried out on dog owners in the Canary Islands showed that 51.3% of allergic owners had a heartworm-positive dog, and significant differences were found between allergic or not-allergic owners, according to whether the dog was negative or positive to heartworm. Furthermore, 66 serum samples from inhabitants of the Canary Islands were analyzed for the presence of unspecific allergy markers (Immunoglobulin E or IgE) and specific for heartworm (IgE against Dirofilaria immitis and Wolbachia) and the results show that people who were in contact with heartworm showed total IgE and specific IgE against heartworm more frequently. Contact with heartworm may be a risk factor for the development of allergic diseases, although further studies to elucidate the relationship between heartworm and allergies should be carried out.
The Canary Islands are hyperendemic for canine heartworm and the risk of zoonotic infection is high. Additionally, there is evidence of development of allergies due to nematode infections in animals and humans. Since the population of the Canary Islands presents high prevalence of allergic comorbidities, and previous studies have shown a possible relationship between allergies and seropositivity to heartworm, the aim was to evaluate whether exposure to heartworm may contribute to the development of allergies in the human population. First, an epidemiological study was conducted on 248 owners of dogs with/without heartworm infection in the Canary Islands. Secondly, a serological analysis of the presence of total IgE and specific IgE against heartworm was conducted in 66 samples of inhabitants of the Canary Islands. The survey showed that allergic owners had heartworm-positive dogs more frequently (p < 0.01). Of the analyzed human samples, 43.9% were seropositive to heartworm and Wolbachia. Total IgE concentrations were increased in 34.5% seropositive samples and 8.1% seronegative samples. Specific IgE against heartworm was only found in human seropositive samples (17.2%). Contact with heartworm may be a risk factor for the development of allergic diseases, although further studies to elucidate the relationship between heartworm and allergies should be carried out. View Full-Text
Keywords: Dirofilaria immitis; antibodies; Canary Islands; allergic comorbidities; human dirofilariosis; zoonosis Dirofilaria immitis; antibodies; Canary Islands; allergic comorbidities; human dirofilariosis; zoonosis
MDPI and ACS Style

Montoya-Alonso, J.A.; Morchón, R.; Matos, J.I.; Falcón-Cordón, Y.; Costa-Rodriguez, N.; Carretón, E. Dirofilaria immitis Could Be a Risk Factor for the Development of Allergic Diseases in Humans. Animals 2020, 10, 1847. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10101847

AMA Style

Montoya-Alonso JA, Morchón R, Matos JI, Falcón-Cordón Y, Costa-Rodriguez N, Carretón E. Dirofilaria immitis Could Be a Risk Factor for the Development of Allergic Diseases in Humans. Animals. 2020; 10(10):1847. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10101847

Chicago/Turabian Style

Montoya-Alonso, José A., Rodrigo Morchón, Jorge I. Matos, Yaiza Falcón-Cordón, Noelia Costa-Rodriguez, and Elena Carretón. 2020. "Dirofilaria immitis Could Be a Risk Factor for the Development of Allergic Diseases in Humans" Animals 10, no. 10: 1847. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10101847

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