Mahurin Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects



Document Type



Domestic canines are regarded as natural sentinelsfor the transmission of vector-borne pathogens since infection in an owner’s dog suggests the presence of the vector in or around the household. In collaboration with the University of Kentucky’s Veterinary Diagnostic Lab in Lexington, Kentucky, we have investigated the prevalence of Trypanosoma cruzi (the causative agent of Chagas disease) in canines from central and eastern Kentucky via a serological test, polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and DNA sequencing. In addition, Canine SNAP 4Dx plus tests (Idexx Laboratories, Inc.) were used to determine the prevalence of four other vector-borne pathogens: Ehrlichia canis/ewingii, Borrelia burgdorferi, Anaplasma phagocytophilum/platys, or Dirofilaria immitis in the dogs. Results to date reveal a surprisingly high sero-prevalence of 10.23% for T. cruzi. Two positive samples (2.27%) were confirmed using the polymerase chain reaction and one resulted in a known T. cruzi sequence. In addition, results of the SNAP 4DX plus tests showed a prevalence of 5.68% for Ehrlichia canis/ewingii (the causative agent of ehrlichiosis) and 6.82% for B. burgdorferi (the Lyme disease spirochete). We believe that further studies are urgently needed to fully evaluate the role that canines might be playing as reservoir hosts for these as well as other vector borne diseases in Kentucky.

Advisor(s) or Committee Chair

Dr. Cheryl Davis


Animal Sciences | Biology