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A survey was conducted in the eastern part of Romania to assess the prevalence and geographical distribution of Dirofilaria immitis in dogs. Plasma samples were collected from 458 stray dogs hosted in shelters in 8 counties and tested serologically for the presence of heartworm. In addition, 45 blood samples from dogs of a shelter in Galati city were examined by the modified Knott and multiplex polymerase chain reaction (PCR) techniques. The immmunological assay showed a heartworm infection prevalence of 8.9% in the dogs. Optical density results for positive samples ranged between 0.217 and 2.683. Geographical information systems (GIS) were used to produce overlays of distribution maps of D. immitis prevalence and predictive maps based on temperature suitability. High prevalence of D. immitis was found in the central East up to the northern border of the country, i.e. Galati county (60%), followed by the counties of Vaslui (12.0%) and Iasi (7.7%). Out of 45 samples examined using the Knott test, 23 were positive for circulating microfilariae (51.1%), while 19 dogs were positive for D. immitis and 4 for both D. immitis and D. repens with the multiplex PCR test. The high prevalence for D. immitis shown in dogs in the Southeast (Galati, 42.2%) also by multiplex PCR gave strong support to the results achieved by the serological tests. The present study confirms the ability of GIS to predict the distribution and epidemiology of dirofilariosis in different geographical territories as has been already demonstrated by the empirical epidemiological data obtained at the continental, national and intraregional levels.
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