The nematode parasite Angiostrongylus vasorum is an increasingly important cause of respiratory and other diseases in dogs. Geographical spread from previously limited endemic foci has occurred rapidly. This paper investigates parasite epidemiology around the location of the first reported case in Scotland in 2009: by detection of A vasorum-specific DNA in gastropod intermediate hosts, and in dogs circulating DNA and specific antibodies, and first stage larvae in faeces. Overall prevalence in gastropods was 6.7 per cent (16/240), with parasite DNA found in slugs in the Arion ater and Arion hortensis species aggregates and the snail Helix aspersa (syn. Cornu aspersum). Of 60 dogs presenting with clinical signs compatible with angiostrongylosis, none tested positive using PCR on peripheral blood or Baermann test on faeces, and none of 35 tested for circulating anti-A vasorum antibodies were positive. PCR prevalence in gastropods was highest (11 per cent) in the park frequented by the canine angiostrongylosis index case. Molecular survey for infection in gastropods is a potentially informative and efficient method for characterising the distribution of A vasorum and therefore local risk of canine infection. However, there appears to be a complex relationship between prevalence in gastropods and emergence of canine clinical disease, which requires further work to advance understanding of parasite transmission and geographical disease spread.
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