Main content area

Seroprevalence of canine Leishmania infantum infection in the Mediterranean region and identification of risk factors: The example of North-Eastern and Pyrenean areas of Spain

Velez, R., Ballart, C., Domenech, E., Abras, A., Fernández-Arévalo, A., Gómez, S.A., Tebar, S., Muñoz, C., Cairó, J., Gállego, M.
Preventive veterinary medicine 2019 v.162 pp. 67-75
Leishmania infantum, altitude, blood sampling, dogs, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, human health, leishmaniasis, pet ownership, questionnaires, regression analysis, risk assessment, risk factors, risk perception, seroprevalence, surveys, Mediterranean region, Spain
The Mediterranean basin is an endemic region for canine leishmaniosis (CanL), where it represents a major veterinary problem and raises human health concerns. However, the distribution of the disease is heterogeneous and not all countries and locations have been equally studied and characterized. This work describes the situation of CanL in Girona province (Catalonia, Spain), for which no data has been previously reported, and presents a relevant study to exemplify other areas with similar characteristics across the region. Four cross-sectional seroprevalence surveys were performed from 2012 to 2016 throughout the province, including 36 sampling stations in 26 localities and a total of 593 dogs. For each animal, individual and location variables were also collected. Additionally, each dog owner answered a questionnaire about their knowledge of CanL and preventive methods used. Blood samples were analysed by an in-house ELISA and a mixed logistic regression model was used to assess the relationship between pre-determined variables and dog seropositivity. A Spearman’s correlation was used to assess the association between dog owners’ perceived risk of CanL and Leishmania infantum seropositivity in dogs at a given location. The overall true seroprevalence estimated for Girona province was 19.5% (95%CI: 15.5–23.5), of which only 6.8% (10/146) were considered symptomatic. Age of the dog [OR = 1.21 (95%CI: 1.11-1.31); p < 0.001] and altitude [OR = 0.02 (95%CI: 0.001-0.19); p = 0.001] were identified as risk factors for the infection. The results obtained in this study are expected to aid in the implementation of directed control programmes in CanL endemic areas throughout Europe, as well as to provide suitable data for the design of better risk assessment maps of the disease.