Entomological and ecological studies in a new potential zoonotic leishmaniasis focus in Torres Novas municipality, Central Region, Portugal.

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In Portugal human and canine leishmaniasis are caused by Leishmania infantum, and Phlebotomus perniciosus and P. ariasi are the proven vectors. Three main foci were identified in eighty's decade: Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro region, Lisbon region and Algarve region, but according to OnLeish observatory data, canine leishmaniasis cases have been reported from several other regions, for which sand fly species and their infection rates are unknown. This study is the first phlebotomine survey in Torres Novas municipality, Santarém District, Portugal. The main objectives were to identify the phlebotomine species, their bioecological aspects, Leishmania infection rate and the risk factors for the presence of phlebotomine species in the municipality. From June to November, 2010, 275 biotopes were surveyed with CDC light-traps. Captures covered the 17 parishes of the municipality and included domestic, peridomestic and sylvatic biotopes. Specimens were identified morphologically and females were used for molecular detection of Leishmania and bloodmeal identification. Simple and multiple logistic regression analysis were used to identify risk factors for phlebotomine presence. Nonparametric tests were used to compare densities of independent groups. A total of 1262 sand flies were captured and identified, and four species detected: P. perniciosus (73.69%), P. ariasi (8.16%), P. sergenti (6.58%) and Sergentomyia minuta (11.57%). In 71.4% localities at least one L. infantum proven vector species was present. Risk factors were identified as: high average temperatures and low relative humidities, sheltered locations and absence of strong wind, presence of pine trees as dominant vegetation, peridomestic biotopes, particularly sheep pens or proximity of sheep, poultry and house martin nests. L. infantum infection rate was 4% for P. ariasi and 0.48% for the total of Larroussius females. P. perniciosus females exhibited an opportunistic behavior, feeding in a wide variety of vertebrate hosts. The high abundance and distribution of proven vector species, together with a canine leishmaniasis seroprevalence of 7.93% in the District, and the capture of a gravid infective sand fly female, suggests that Torres Novas municipality is a potential zoonotic leishmaniasis focus in the country.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)339-348
JournalActa Tropica
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2013


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