Canine filarioids are worldwide distributed nematodes transmitted by arthropods with variable virulence depending on the species. Dirofilaria immitis is the most virulent and serological antigen tests are commonly employed to detect it. This study reports on the heaviest cavity filariasis recorded so far in a dog, which showed no apparent clinical signs of infection. The 6-year-old male was positive to a D. immitis antigen test. Blood samples collected and analyzed with the modified Knott’s test for microfilariae revealed 264,367 microfilariae/ml. In a postmortem examination 791 adult filarial nematodes were found in the dog’s thoracic and peritoneal cavities. Morphological and molecular analysis identified the nematode as Acanthocheilonema dracunculoides and no other species were present. This is evidence that massive A. dracunculoides infections in dogs may not be clinically evident, they may cause serologic cross-reaction with D. immitis infection and become a life-threatening condition if dogs are treated with a microfilaricidal treatment without previously performing an adequate diagnosis.
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