02821-A: Investigating the Role of Aedes aegypti in Dog Heartworm Transmission in Communities along the U.S.-Mexico Border

Grant Status: Closed

Grant Amount: $15,000
Gabriel Hamer, PhD; Texas A&M AgriLife Research
August 1, 2020 - July 31, 2021


Breed(s): -All Dogs
Research Program Area: Immunology and Infectious Disease
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One Health: Yes


Canine heartworm continues to be one of the most important parasitic and potentially fatal diseases of dogs in the United States, resulting in over 100,000 positive dogs each year, and costing owners about $75 million annually. Mosquito vectors of Dirofilaria immitis, the agent of heartworm disease, receive little attention relative to canine infection and therapeutics. One Health studies evaluating multiple vector-borne diseases in South Texas have recently revealed surprisingly high dog feeding (50%) by the mosquito, Aedes aegypti. This species is well known as a potent vector of human-amplified urban arboviruses such as dengue and Zika virus, but largely ignored as a contributor to D. immitis transmission, despite being a competent vector in the lab. This study will identify the D. immitis infection rate of Ae. Aegypti feeding on dog hosts and proportion of mosquitoes able to transmit the larvae. Furthermore, this study will characterize heartworm burden by testing for D. immitis antigen and DNA in dogs in the surrounding communities. This project will contribute to understanding the role of Ae. aegypti to heartworm transmission which is significant given this mosquito’s global distribution and advancement northward with climate change. With potential for D. immitis resistance to heartworm preventives, understanding the key vectors involved in the transmission cycle of heartworm provides a necessary foundation for disease management.


Scavo, N. A., Zecca, I. B., Sobotyk, C., Saleh, M. N., Lane, S. K., Olson, M. F., Hamer, S. A., Verocai, G. G., & Hamer, G. L. (2022). High prevalence of canine heartworm, Dirofilaria immitis, in pet dogs in south Texas, USA, with evidence of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes contributing to transmission. Parasites & Vectors, 15(1), 407. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13071-022-05514-1

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