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Dirofilaria [di-ro-fi-lar'e-e].

From the Latin dirus ("fearful" or "ominous") + filum ("thread"), Dirofilaria is a genus of nematodes of the superfamily Filarioidea. The first known description of Dirofilaria may have been by Italian nobleman Francesco Birago in 1626 in his Treatise on Hunting: "The dog generates two worms, which are half an arm's length long and thicker than a finger and red like fire." Birago erroneously identified the worms as a larval stage of another parasite, Dioctophyme renale. The dog heartworm was named Filaria by American parasitologist Joseph Leidy in 1856, and the genus was renamed Dirofilaria by French parasitologists Railliet and Henry in 1911.



(1.) American Heartworm Society. An early and interesting history of heartworm in dogs. 2009 Jun [cited 25 Oct 2012]. http://www.

(2.) Dorland's illustrated medical dictionary. 32nd ed. Philadelphia: Elsevier Saunders; 2012.

(3.) Simon Martin F, Genchi C. Dirofilariasis and other zoonotic filariases: an emerging public health problem in developed countries. Research and Reviews in Parasitology. 2000; 60:1-16.

(4.) Simon F, Siles-Lucas M, Morchon R, Gonzalez-Miguel J, Mellado I, Carreton E, et al. Human and animal dilofilariasis: the emergence of a zoonotic mosaic. Clin Microbiol Rev. 2012; 25:507-44.

Address for correspondence: Ronnie Henry, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1600 Clifton Rd NE, Mailstop E03, Atlanta, GA 30333, USA; email:

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Title Annotation:etymoloiga
Publication:Emerging Infectious Diseases
Date:Feb 1, 2014
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