Little evidence of seasonal variation of natural infection by Leishmania infantum in dogs in Spain

Fernandez-Bellon, H and Solano-Gallego, L and Rodriguez-Cortes, A and Ferrer, L and Gallego, M and Alberola, J and Ramis, A (2008) Little evidence of seasonal variation of natural infection by Leishmania infantum in dogs in Spain. VETERINARY PARASITOLOGY, 155 (1-2). pp. 32-36.

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Abstract

Leishmania infantum, the etiological agent of canine leishmaniosis in the Mediterranean region, is vectored by Phlebotomus spp sandflies, which are active during the warmer months of the year. In order to determine whether seasonality in transmission induces seasonal changes in the prevalence of infection by L. infantum and of parasite-specific immune response, two groups of dogs, one in February (n = 37) and another in October (n = 42), were studied. Clinical signs compatible with leishmaniosis, as well as presence of microscopic skin lesions in the muzzle were recorded for all dogs. Assays were also performed for detection of L. infantum parasites in muzzle skin samples (PCR, immunohistochemistry and culture), specific serum antibodies (ELISA), and specific lymphocyte proliferation and interferon-gamma production. Although prevalence of non-specific clinical signs increased significantly after the sandfly season, this was not the case for Leishmania-specific markers: positivity by PCR (24% vs. 21%) or inummohistochemistry (3% vs. 2%) of muzzle skin samples, as well as lymphocyte proliferation (59% vs. 50%) or interferon-gamma production (21% vs. 27%) were similar in February and in October. Only prevalence of positive specific antibody titers increased noticeably in October (8% vs. 20%), although this was not statistically significant. Overall, the sandfly season did not have a marked impact on the prevalence L. infantum infection or parasite-specific immune responses analyzed in this study. (C) 2008 Elsevier B.V All rights reserved.