Cercopithifilaria spp

From Dog
Third-stage (infective L3) of Cercopithifilaria spp under light microscopy[1]

Cercopithifilaria spp are a relatively common hematophagous nematode endoparasite of dogs in Australia, Brazil and the Mediterranean.

Species which are pathogenic to dogs include:

  • Cercopithifilaria grassii[2] (Italy)
  • Cercopithifilaria bainae (Brazil)

The lief cycle involves infective larvae transmitted by the brown dog tick Rhipicephalus sanguineus[3]. Infective larvae reside in the dermis of the dog, where they mature to adults, producing ovoviviparous microfilariae which can be confused visually with Dirofilaria immitis. The cycle is completed when ticks ingest microfilariae while feeding from dogs.

Cercopithifilaria spp are usually nonpathogenic to dogs but mild dermatitis has been reported, presumably due to reactions to the endosymbiont Wolbachia spp[4].

Diagnosis is based on skin scrapings and demonstration of microfilariae in subcutaneous tissues. Microfilariae are unevenly distributed on the body, with higher frequencies on interscapular region and on the head.

A differential diagnosis would include other filarial parasites such as Dirofilaria immitis, Brugia malayi, Crenosoma vulpis and Acanthocheilonema viteae.

PCR assays are also available for species identification.

Treatment is relatively effective with diethylcarbamazine, doxycycline, selamectin and ivermectin.


  1. Otranto D et al (2012) On a Cercopithifilaria sp. transmitted by Rhipicephalus sanguineus: a neglected, but widespread filarioid of dogs. Parasit Vectors 5(1):1
  2. Otranto D et al (2012) Species diversity of dermal microfilariae of the genus Cercopithifilaria infesting dogs in the Mediterranean region. Parasitology 23:1-10
  3. Brianti E et al (2012) Rhipicephalus sanguineus (Ixodida, Ixodidae) as intermediate host of a canine neglected filarial species with dermal microfilariae. Vet Parasitol 183(3-4):330-337
  4. Ferri E et al (2011) New insights into the evolution of Wolbachia infections in filarial nematodes inferred from a large range of screened species. PLoS One 6(6):e20843