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Role of the domestic dog as a reservoir host of Leishmania donovani in eastern Sudan

Mo'awia M Hassan1*, Omran F Osman2, Fathi MA El-Raba'a2, Henk DFH Schallig3 and Dia-Eldin A Elnaiem4

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Epidemiology, Tropical Medicine Research Institute, National Centre for Research, Ministry of Science and Technology, PO Box 1304, Khartoum, Sudan

2 Department of Zoology, University of Khartoum, Khartoum PO Box 321, Sudan

3 Royal Tropical Institute (KIT), Biomedical Research, Meibergdreef 39, 1105 AZ Amsterdam, the Netherlands

4 NIAID, NIH, 12735 Twinbrook PKWY, Rockville, Maryland, 20852-8132, USA

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Parasites & Vectors 2009, 2:26  doi:10.1186/1756-3305-2-26

Published: 17 June 2009

Abstract

Background

The study aims to determine the role of domestic dogs in transmission of visceral leishmaniasis in eastern Sudan. A cross-sectional survey was conducted in 10 villages along the River Rahad in eastern Sudan to elucidate the role of domestic dogs (Canis familiaris, Linnaeus, 1758) as a reservoir host of Leishmania donovani. In this study, 87 dogs were screened for infection by Leishmania donovani. Blood and lymph node samples were taken from 87 and 33 dogs respectively and subsequently screened by the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) and Direct Agglutination Test (DAT) test. Additional lymph node smears were processed for microscopy and parasite culture. Host preference of the visceral leishmaniasis (VL) vector in the area, Phlebotomus orientalis, and other sandflies for the Nile rat (Arvicanthis niloticus, É. Geoffrey, 1803), the genet (Genetta genetta, Linnaeus, 1758), the mongoose (Herpeistes ichneumon, Linnaeus, 1758), and the domestic dog were determined by counting numbers of sand flies attracted to CDC traps that were baited by these animals.

Results

DAT on blood samples detected anti-Leishmania antibodies in 6 samples (6.9%). Two out of 87 (2.3%) blood samples tested were PCR positive, giving an amplification product of 560 bp. The two positive samples by PCR were also positive by DAT. However, none of the 33 lymph nodes aspirates were Leishmania positive when screened by microscopy, culture and genus-specific PCR. The dog-baited trap significantly attracted the highest number of P. orientalis and sand fly species (P < 0.001). This was followed by the Egyptian mongoose baited trap and less frequently by the genet baited trap.

Conclusion

It is concluded that the results obtained from host attraction studies indicate that dog is more attractive for P. orientalis than Egyptian mongoose, common genet and Nile rat.