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Veterinary Parasitology
Volume 251, 2018, Pages 68-77

Arthropod-borne pathogens of dogs and cats: From pathways and times of transmission to disease control

Domenico Otranto

Dipartimento di Medicina Veterinaria, Università degli Studi di Bari, 70010, Valenzano, Italy.


Vector-borne pathogens have developed a close relationship with blood feeding arthropod ectoparasites (e.g., mosquitoes, ticks, phlebotomine sand flies, black flies, fleas, kissing bugs, lice) and exploited a huge variety of vector transmission routes. Therefore, the life cycles of these pathogens result in a long evolved balance with the respective arthropod biology, ecology and blood feeding habits, instrumentally to the infection of several animal species, including humans. Amongst the many parasite transmission modes, such as ingestion of the arthropod, with its faeces or secretions, blood feeding represents the main focus for this article, as it is a central event to the life of almost all arthropod vectors. The time frame in which pathogens are transmitted to any animal host is governed by a large number of biological variables related to the vector, the pathogen, the host and environmental factors. Scientific data available on transmission times for each pathogen are discussed relative to their impact for the success of vector-borne disease control strategies. Blocking pathogen transmission, and thus preventing the infection of dogs and cats, may be achievable by the use of chemical compounds if they are characterised by a fast onset of killing activity or repellence against arthropods. The fast speed of kill exerted by systemic isoxazoline, as well as the repellent effect of pyrethroids have renewed the interest of the scientific community and pharmaceutical companies towards reducing the burden of vector-borne diseases under field conditions. However, endosymbionts and vaccines targeting arthropods or pathogen antigens should be further investigated as alternative strategies towards the goal of achieving an effective integrated control of vector-borne diseases.

Keywords: parasites, Vectors, Arthropod-borne pathogens, Dog, Cat, Emerging, Zoonoses, Control.

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