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Controlling phlebotomine sand flies to prevent canine Leishmania infantum infection: A case of knowing your enemy

Gálvez, R., Montoya, A., Fontal, F., Martínez De Murguía, L., Miró, G.
Research in veterinary science 2018 v.121 pp. 94-103
Leishmania infantum, One Health initiative, Phlebotominae, World Health Organization, adults, ambient temperature, breeding sites, collars, control methods, dogs, environmental impact, females, humans, larvae, leishmaniasis, males, permethrin, pet ownership, plant extracts, repellents, risk, spraying, sugars, toxicity, vector control, veterinarians, zoonoses, Mediterranean region
Leishmaniosis caused by Leishmania infantum is a widespread zoonotic disease that can be transmitted to animals and humans by their vectors, blood-sucking phlebotomine sand flies. To prevent canine leishmaniosis across the whole Mediterranean region, vector control is essential. Because of phlebotomine breeding sites are diverse, environmental larval controls have limited practical value. Control methods of adults are being evaluated, such as selective baits based on sugar feeding of males and females or Attractive Toxic Sugar Baits (ATSB), and the indoor use of Long-Lasting-Insecticidal Nets (LLINs) treated with permethrin to prevent sand fly bites complementing the Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS) approach suggested by WHO. Although several strategies exist, the best control measure to prevent canine Leishmania infantum is to treat dogs using biocidal topical formulations based on legal insecticides (PTs18) or repellents (PTs19) (as collars, spot-ons and/or sprays) during the period when the vectors are active. This means we need to really know the biology and life cycle of the sand fly vector. According to available data, by mapping ambient temperatures we can already predict high risk areas where vector densities will be higher. In ongoing research, new candidates are emerging to fight against sand flies including natural plant extracts with low impacts on the environment and host animal. Other options in the future could be systemic insecticides to help reduce sand fly populations in high density areas. In parallel, health authorities and professionals involved in animal and public health (veterinarians, physicians, entomologists and epidemiologists) must work together in a One Health approach to minimize Leishmania infection. Veterinarians play a crucial role in liaising between key stake holders and dog owners to ensure the latter act responsibly in using repellents as a preventive measure against sand fly bites.