Canine heartworm (Dirofilaria immitis) is a nematode that naturally parasitizes in the pulmonary arteries and the right ventricle of domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) as final hosts. Japanese raccoon dogs (Nyctereutes procyonoides viverrinus) also are known to be susceptible to infection by the parasite. However, prevalence of this infection among free-ranging raccoon dogs is low and so is the worm burden. To examine the susceptibility of the raccoon dog to D. immitis infection, 3 raccoon dogs and 2 beagles were inoculated 4 times with 25 third-stage larvae (L3s) of D. immitis at 3-wk intervals. Worms were recovered from 2 raccoon dogs and both domestic dogs. The average percentage of recovery (2.3%) of the raccoon dogs was almost 10 times lower (24.5%) than that of the domestic dogs, but there was no significant difference in the body length of worms recovered from 2 types of hosts. To examine microfilaremia, 2 raccoon dogs were infected with 100 L3s. Microfilaremia was observed for 180 days postinoculation (PI) but disappeared at about 300 days PI. The raccoon dog was mildly susceptible to infection with D. immitis, but surviving worms developed and matured normally.
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