Dirofilaria immitis Could Be a Risk Factor for the Development of Allergic Diseases in Humans
Research Institute of Biomedical and Health Sciences (IUIBS), University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, 35016 Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain
Animal and Human Dirofilariosis Group, Laboratory of Parasitology, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Salamanca, 37007 Salamanca, Spain
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 13 July 2020
Revised: 5 October 2020
Accepted: 7 October 2020
Published: 11 October 2020
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.