Serological survey of Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato, Anaplasma phagocytophilum, and Ehrlichia canis infections in rural and urban dogs in Central Italy
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Department of Veterinary Science, University of Pisa, Italy
Ann Agric Environ Med. 2014;21(4):671-675
Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato (s.l.) and Anaplasma phagocytophilum are well known zoonotic pathogens, whereas Ehrlichia canis is usually considered to be of veterinary concern, although on the basis of recent reports it also seems to be able to infect humans.

The aim of the study was to determine the seroprevalence of B. burgdorferi s.l., A. phagocytophilum and E. canis in an Italian canine population, and to verify if there are differences between dogs living in urban areas and those from a rural environment.

Material and Methods:
Blood sera of 1,965 dogs, 1,235 from cities and 730 from rural areas, were tested by indirect immunofluorescent assay (IFAT).

The overall seroprevalence was highest for E. canis (7.07%), followed by A. phagocytophilum (4.68%), and B. burgdorferi s.l. (1.47%). Rural dogs showed the highest seroprevalence to B. burgdorferi s.l. and A. phagocytophilum. No significant differences were observed between rural and urban E. canis-positive dogs. A low percentage (1.32%) of dogs with dual seropositivity was detected, and no triple positive reactions were observed. No significant differences were detected in the seroprevalence of the three agents in relationship to the age and gender of the dogs. Seroprevalence in the five years considered were not statistically different, except for the lowest rate for E. canis observed in 2012.

The results confirm the presence of B. burgdorferi s.l., A. phagocytophilum and E. canis in Italian dogs in both urban and rural areas. Monitoring pet dogs, which share the same environment with their owners, is useful for identifying the presence of tick-borne disease agents of both veterinary and public health significance.

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