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Study of dirofilariasis in a selected area in the Western Province

Authors:

RPAS Rajapakshe,

Department of Parasitology, Faculty of Medicine, Colombo 8, Sri Lanka, LK
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WSR Perera,

Department of Parasitology, Faculty of Medicine, Colombo 8, Sri Lanka, LK
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FR Ihalamulla,

Department of Parasitology, Faculty of Medicine, Colombo 8, Sri Lanka, LK
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KH Weerasena,

Department of Parasitology, Faculty of Medicine, Colombo 8, Sri Lanka, LK
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S Jayasinghe,

Department of Parasitology, Faculty of Medicine, Colombo 8, Sri Lanka, LK
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HBR Sajeewani,

Department of Parasitology, Faculty of Medicine, Colombo 8, Sri Lanka, LK
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MG Thammitiyagodage,

Medical Research Institute, Borella, Colombo, Sri Lanka, LK
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ND Karunaweera

Department of Parasitology, Faculty of Medicine, Colombo 8, Sri Lanka, LK
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Abstract

Introduction Human dirofilariasis is a zoonotic infection caused by the filarial worm, Dirofilaria (Nochtiella) repens, whose primary host is the dog. This infection is on the increase over the past decade in Sri Lanka and the prevalence of canine dirofilariasis in the country is also believed to be high. We present here a study on public awareness of dirofilariasis and the prevalence of this infection in dogs in Negombo, an urban area that has a high domestic canine population.
Objective To assess the awareness of dirofilariasis infection among residents and study the prevalence of this infection in domestic dogs in Negombo.
Design Prospective study.
Setting Department of Parasitology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo, Colombo 8, Sri Lanka.
Methods A descriptive cross-sectional study within the city of Negombo during September and November 2003 using a pre-tested, interviewer-administered questionnaire with cluster sampling was done. Two hundred seventy adults, including 132 dog owners, were included in the study. Data analysis was done using the EpiInfo programme.
The prevalence of canine dirofilariasis was studied in a group of 65 dogs over the age of 1 year. They were selected by cluster sampling with random choice of the streets within the study area. Stained thick blood films, made following an earlobe-prick at any time during the day, were microscopically examined for the presence of microfilariae.
Results Forty nine of the respondents (18%) were aware of the existence of canine dirofilariasis while human dirofilariasis was known only to 6%. Awareness was related to the level of education. Knowledge of canine filariasis was better among pet owners (32/132) when compared to others (18/138; p < 0.05). Veterinary surgeons were acknowledged as the source of information by 38% of those who were aware of the disease.
Forty five per cent (n = 29) of the dogs screened were positive for microfilariae. Out of these 18 and two dogs were infected with D. repens and B. ceylonensis, respectively, while nine others were co-infected with the two parasites.
Conclusions The knowledge of dirofilariasis is extremely poor in the study area. The high prevalence of filarial infections in dogs highlights the importance of improving the public awareness of this disease, especially among the dog owners. Proper management of this condition in dogs-the reservoirs of infection for human dirofilariasis, is important for the control of this zoonotic infection.

Key words: Dirofilaria (Nochtiella) repens, prevalence, public awareness, Sri Lanka, zoonoses

DOI: 10.4038/cmj.v50i2.1570

Ceylon Medical Journal Vol.50(2) 2005 pp58-61

DOI: https://doi.org/10.4038/cmj.v50i2.1570
How to Cite: Rajapakshe, R., Perera, W., Ihalamulla, F., Weerasena, K., Jayasinghe, S., Sajeewani, H., Thammitiyagodage, M. and Karunaweera, N., 2010. Study of dirofilariasis in a selected area in the Western Province. Ceylon Medical Journal, 50(2), pp.58–61. DOI: http://doi.org/10.4038/cmj.v50i2.1570
Published on 03 Feb 2010.
Peer Reviewed

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