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Feline Leishmania infection in a canine leishmaniasis endemic region, Portugal. Vet Parasitol

Unidade de Leishmanioses, Instituto de Higiene e Medicina Tropical (IHMT), Universidade Nova de Lisboa (UNL), Rua da Junqueira 100, 1349-008 Lisboa, Portugal.
Veterinary Parasitology (Impact Factor: 2.55). 12/2010; 174(3-4):336-40. DOI: 10.1016/j.vetpar.2010.08.030
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Canine leishmaniasis (CanL) caused by Leishmania infantum is a serious zoonotic public health and veterinary problem in the Mediterranean basin. Leishmania infection in domestic cats (Felis catus domesticus) has been reported in several countries where this zoonosis is endemic, such as Portugal, Spain, Italy, France, Greece, Israel, Palestine and Brazil. The aim of this study was to contribute to the knowledge of the role played by cats in Leishmania epidemiology, in an endemic focus of zoonotic leishmaniasis, the Lisbon metropolitan area, Portugal. L. infantum DNA was detected in peripheral blood of 28 out of 138 cats (20.3%). The result of PCR in blood of cats was not closely associated with the level of specific circulating antibodies in their sera. Positive serology was observed only in one cat out of 76. In the same geographic region and time period the indirect immunofluorescent test revealed 20.4% (31/152) of dogs with antibodies and PCR detected Leismania DNA on 34.9% (53/152) animals. Despite the fact that specific antibodies have been validated for diagnosis of CanL, their detection does not seem to be sensitive enough to predict Leishmania infection in cats. On the other hand, the presence of parasite DNA in cat's peripheral blood during the transmission season and out of the season suggests that these animals living in endemic areas are frequently exposed or infected with the parasite. Although dogs have been universally regarded as the major domestic/peridomestic reservoir hosts, the present data allow us to hypothesize that cats can act as an alternative reservoir host of L. infantum, rather than an accidental host. However, in order to evaluate the existence of a transmission cycle with cats sustaining and spreading zoonotic leishmaniasis is necessary to prove that these animals can transmit the parasite to the vector in nature.

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    • "In this context, some studies of feline leishmaniasis (FL) facilitate the hypothesis that cats are susceptible to infection by Leishmania spp., like most of the canine population residing in endemic areas. However, the true level of susceptibility/ resistance of felines to the infection and its role in the leishmaniasis cycle is still controversial (MAIA et al., 2010). Information regarding leishmaniasis involving felines has been increasing, but there are still many questions to be answered by new studies, especially regarding the pathogenesis and the true role of the cat as a reservoir host for Leishmania spp. "
    • "potential transmission modes, and should advise dog owners on preventive measures (Shaw et al., 2009; Menn et al., 2010). Even though the dog is the predominant host for L. infantum, infection with this parasite has been frequently recorded in domestic cats (Tabar et al., 2008a; Maia et al., 2010; Pennisi, 2013; Chatzis et al., 2014) and red foxes (Dipineto et al., 2007; Millán et al., 2014) from endemic regions. As the important question regarding the possibility that any of these vertebrate species can serve as reservoirs and participate in the establishment and spread of the parasite in new foci is still unanswered (Maia and Campino, 2011; Antoniou et al., 2013), cats and red foxes need to be at least considered as a potential threat and surveys should be performed to investigate the capacity of these animal species to harbour L. infantum (Mencke, 2011). "
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    ABSTRACT: Leishmania infantum is the etiological agent of canine leishmaniosis (CanL) in Europe, where it is endemic in the Mediterranean region, with dogs being considered the major reservoir of the parasite for humans and other mammalian hosts. The main transmission mode of Leishmania is by the bite of infected phlebotomine sand fly insects (genus Phlebotomus), which are the only proven vectors of this zoonotic protozoan. Less common, non-vectorial transmission between dogs include infection through transfused blood products from infected donors, transplacental and venereal transmission. CanL has exhibited an expansion to new locations in Europe, mainly northwards, either by territorial contiguity, often in association with global warming that favours vectorial transmission, or by the long-distance importation of infected dogs. The increasing incidence of CanL in countries where the disease is not endemic is challenging owners, veterinarians and government authorities. Most infected dogs in these new areas have been relocated from or travelled with their owners to endemic regions, but in some cases transmission might have also been autochthonous. In the absence of prophylactic measures, the introduction of infected dogs in areas previously free of endemic CanL but which have competent sand fly vectors can result in a potential persistence of L. infantum. The spread of L. infantum in Europe is reviewed with a focus on transmission, epidemiology and geographic distribution of endemic and non-endemic CanL, infection and disease in humans and animal hosts other than dogs, together with prevention and additional control strategies. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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    • "In this context, some studies of feline leishmaniasis (FL) facilitate the hypothesis that cats are susceptible to infection by Leishmania spp., like most of the canine population residing in endemic areas. However, the true level of susceptibility/ resistance of felines to the infection and its role in the leishmaniasis cycle is still controversial (MAIA et al., 2010). Information regarding leishmaniasis involving felines has been increasing, but there are still many questions to be answered by new studies, especially regarding the pathogenesis and the true role of the cat as a reservoir host for Leishmania spp. "
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