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Open Access Highly Accessed Review

Heartworms, macrocyclic lactones, and the specter of resistance to prevention in the United States

Dwight D Bowman

Author Affiliations

Department of Microbiology and Immunology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, 14853, USA

Parasites & Vectors 2012, 5:138  doi:10.1186/1756-3305-5-138

Published: 9 July 2012

Abstract

In order to provide a background to current concerns relative to the possible resistance of heartworms to macrocyclic lactones, this review summarizes various studies in which lack of efficacies (LOEs) have been observed in dogs on macrocyclic lactone preventives relative to the United States of America. Some of these studies have been published in the peer-reviewed literature, others have appeared in various reports to the Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the USA as New Animal Drug Application (NADA) summaries, and one appeared as a letter to US veterinarians. This review also discusses reports relating to the potential problem of heartworm resistance in microfilariae and third-stage larvae, as well as molecular markers associated with resistance to macrocyclic lactones within Dirofilaria immitis. As more work is being done in this area of great concern relative to the protection of dogs from infection using this class of preventives, it seems timely to summarize what is known about heartworms, their potential resistance to treatment, and the means of selecting for resistance genes in populations of this helminth in the laboratory and in the field.

Keywords:
Dirofilaria immitis; Heartworm; Drug resistance; Macrocyclic lactones; Ivermectin; Selamectin; Milbemycin oxime; Moxidectin