Serological prevalence of six vector-borne pathogens in dogs presented for elective ovariohysterectomy or castration in the South central region of Texas.
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BACKGROUND: Most vector-borne pathogens cause zoonotic diseases. These zoonoses often have wild animal reservoirs that play a significant role in disease epidemiology. However, pet animals have also been implicated in transmission of zoonotic agents to humans. To exemplify, dogs are competent reservoir hosts for several zoonotic vector-borne bacteria and protozoa. Despite that vector-borne diseases can be life-threatening for both pets and humans, studies on pathogen seroprevalence are very limited. Therefore, the objective of this study was to determine the serological prevalence of six zoonotic vector-borne agents in dogs from the South Central region of Texas (US). Electronic medical records of dogs, presenting over 2014-2019 for elective ovariohysterectomy or castration at a high volume spay and neuter clinic, were reviewed for serological testing. Sera from 418 dogs were tested for the Dirofilaria immitis antigen, and antibodies to Anaplasma phagocytophilum, Anaplasma platys, Borrelia burgdorferi, Ehrlichia canis, and Ehrlichia ewingi, using a commonly available commercial test kit. Descriptive statistics were computed to characterize the respective seroprevalence rates of the dog population. The study involved 192 (46%) male and 226 (54%) female dogs. RESULTS: Overall, 85 (20%) dogs tested positive for at least one of the 6 pathogens investigated. The highest seroprevalence rate averaged over the 6-year period was 11.7% for D. immitis followed by 8.4% for E. canis and/or E. ewingii, 4.3% for A. phagocytophilum and/or A. platys, and 0.2% for B. burgdorferi. The co-exposure or co-infection was only detected in 3.8% of the dog population. CONCLUSIONS: Together, opportunistic testing of dogs presenting for elective surgical procedures may provide an effective way of assessing seroprevalence and/or risk factors for common vector-borne diseases within a geographic region of concern.