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Leishmania infection in lagomorphs and minks in Greece

Tsakmakidis, Ιoannis, Pavlou, Christoforos, Tamvakis, Αndroniki, Papadopoulos, Theologos, Christodoulou, Vasiliki, Angelopoulou, Katerina, Dovas, Chrysostomos I., Antoniou, Μaria, Anastasakis, Christos, Diakou, Αnastasia
Veterinary Parasitology: Regional Studies and Reports 2019 v.16 pp. 100279
Lagomorpha, Leishmania, animal diseases, breeding methods, cell biology, dogs, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, hares, humans, internal transcribed spacers, leishmaniasis, mink, polymerase chain reaction, rabbits, rearing, serology, seroprevalence, spleen, statistical analysis, Greece
Greece is an endemic country for human and canine leishmaniosis. Studies about the role of lagomorphs and minks in the epidemiology of the diseases are, so far, limited. The aim of the present study was to investigate the prevalence of Leishmania infection in these animals, in different areas of the country. Samples from 393 domestic and wild rabbits, 90 hares and 200 minks were collected and examined by cytology (spleen imprints) and serology (ELISA), while spleen samples of 116, 56 and 95 of the rabbits, hares and minks, respectively, were examined by a PCR assay targeting the ITS1 region. For every animal examined a form was created, recording information like date, area, animal species, sex, etc. All imprint smears examined were negative, while serology revealed infection in 7.6% (C.I. 5.0–10.3%) rabbits, 6.7% (C.I. 1.5–11.8%) hares and 20% (C.I. 14.5–25.5%) minks. Infection was confirmed by molecular methods in 2.6% (C.I. 0.0–5.5%), 3.6% (C.I. 0.0–8.4%) and 2.1% (C.I. 0.0–5.0%) of the animals, respectively. The statistical analysis showed that minks are most likely to be seropositive and that in rabbits, the breeding method (i.e. homestead reared animals) was associated with infection. Because of the proximity of lagomorphs and minks to humans and dogs it is necessary to further elucidate their role in the epidemiology of leishmaniosis.