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Open Access Research

Infectivity to Phlebotomus perniciosus of dogs naturally parasitized with Leishmania infantum after different treatments

Guadalupe Miró1*, Rosa Gálvez2, Cristeta Fraile1, Miguel A Descalzo3 and Ricardo Molina2

Author Affiliations

1 Departamento de Sanidad Animal, Facultad de Veterinaria, Universidad Complutense, Madrid, Spain

2 Servicio de Parasitología, Centro Nacional de Microbiología, Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Majadahonda, Madrid, Spain

3 Unidad de Investigación, Fundación Española de Reumatología, Madrid, Spain

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Parasites & Vectors 2011, 4:52  doi:10.1186/1756-3305-4-52

Published: 13 April 2011

Abstract

Background

In Europe most dogs with clinical leishmaniosis are treated with leishmanicides, typically antimonials combined with allopurinol and good clinical recovery is observed in a high number of these dogs. Through xenodiagnosis, the capacity of a treated animal to infect the vector of the disease under treatment is assessed as a measure of the chemotherapeutic efficacy of the drug used. The objective of the present study was to evaluate through direct xenodiagnosis the infectivity to Phlebotomus perniciosus of dogs naturally parasitized with Leishmania infantum after treatment, and to follow the clinical and parasite course of disease. Thirty two dogs with clinical leishmaniosis were assigned to one of three treatment groups: meglumine antimoniate plus allopurinol (Group A), meglumine antimoniate (Group B) or allopurinol (Group C). During the study, the dogs were examined before treatment (Day 0) and bimonthly thereafter until Day 180 (six months post-treatment onset).

Results

The three groups were scored over time according to the effects of treatment on clinical signs and clinical-pathological variables. Significant differences in clinical scores were observed between Group A and the other two groups, indicating the combined treatment was the most effective. After treatment, bone marrow cultures were positive for the parasite in 30.8% of dogs in some of the check ups (3 or 25% in Group A, 1 or 11.1% in Group B, and 4 or 80% in Group C). Our xenodiagnosis experiments revealed that 15.4% of treated dogs were still able to infect sand flies at some point after treatment (2 dogs or 16.6% in Group A, 2 or 22.2% in Group B and none in Group C). Only 7.7% of the entire study population could infect sand flies as from the second month post-treatment onset.

Conclusion

The three treatment regimens tested significantly reduced the infectivity of dogs towards sand flies, thus diminishing the epidemiological risks of treated dogs both for human beings and other healthy dogs. Despite its low cure rate, the use of allopurinol after a course of leishmanicide treatment is proposed to keep dogs non-infectious during the disease transmission season (4-6 months in southern Europe).