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Interaction between canine and human visceral leishmaniases in a holoendemic focus of Central Tunisia
- Zoghlami, Z., Chouihi, E., Barhoumi, W., Dachraoui, K., Massoudi, N., Helel, K. Ben, Habboul, Z., Hadhri, M.H., Limam, S., Mhadhbi, M., Gharbi, M., Zhioua, E.
- Acta tropica 2014 v.139 pp. 32-38
- Leishmania infantum, Phlebotomus perniciosus, antibodies, blood serum, children, disease occurrence, dog diseases, dogs, endemic diseases, fauna, fluorescent antibody technique, gender, humans, risk factors, seroprevalence, visceral leishmaniasis, Mediterranean region, Tunisia
- Canine visceral leishmaniasis (CVL) is endemic in the Mediterranean basin. In Tunisia, CVL is spatially associated with human visceral leishmaniasis (HVL) affecting mostly children younger than 5 years old. In this study, seroprevalence of Leishmania infantum infection in dogs was assessed in highly endemic districts of the governorate of Kairouan where more than 50% of HVL cases in Tunisia were reported. An entomological investigation was also carried out in two endemic districts (Bouhajla and Haffouz) to assess sand fly fauna and infection status of sand flies with Leishmania. A total of 191 serum samples were collected from healthy dogs and tested for anti-L. infantum antibodies by indirect immunofluorescence antibody test (IFAT). Overall seroprevalence for L. infantum was 26.7% being highest among dogs in the district of Bouhajla (52.7%) and the lowest in the district of Chbika (5.2%). In dogs, seroprevalence did not differ significantly based on gender or age, with dogs younger than 1 year showing a higher seroprevalence compared to older dogs. These findings suggest strong force of infection in naïve animals in holoendemic regions leading to emerging high incidence of HVL. Concomitant to the high CVL prevalence observed in the Bouhajla district, a significantly high cumulative HVL incidence also was observed in this district. Phlebotomus perniciosus and Phlebotomus longicuspis were the most abundant sand fly species in Bouhajla and Haffouz districts. The rate of Leishmania-DNA infection in sand flies was 9.4%. This finding points to spatial correlation between the occurrence of disease in humans, a high rate of infection in dogs and a high abundance of P. pernicious and P. longicuspis. Thus, CVL is the main risk factor for transmission to humans and subsequently, it is an important parameter for controlling transmission to humans.