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The prevalence of canine Leishmania infantum infection in western China detected by PCR and serological tests

Jun-Yun Wang1*, Yu Ha2, Chun-Hua Gao1, Yong Wang3, Yue-Tao Yang1 and Hai-Tang Chen1

Author Affiliations

1 National Institute of Parasitic Diseases, Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention; the Key Laboratory of Parasite and Vector Biology of the Chinese Ministry of Health; WHO Collaborating Center for Malaria, Schistosomiasis and Filariasis, Shanghai 200025, People's Republic of China

2 Center for Disease Control and Prevention of Jiuzhaigou County, Jiuzhaigou, Sichuan 623400, People's Republic of China

3 Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, Michigan 48201, USA

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Parasites & Vectors 2011, 4:69  doi:10.1186/1756-3305-4-69

Published: 9 May 2011



Canine leishmaniasis (CanL) is endemic in western China, resulting in important public health problem. It is essential to evaluate the prevalence of canine Leishmania infantum infection for designing control policy. In the present study we report for the first time prevalence of Leishmania infection in dogs living in Jiuzhaigou County (Sichuan Provence, China), which is not only an important endemic area of CanL but also a tourism scenic spot, detected by PCR, ELISA and dipstick test. The results could provide key information for designing control programs against canine and human leishmaniasis. In addition, the complete sequence of the Leishmania isolate from Sichuan Province has not been reported to date and we present the sequences of 116 base-pair (bp) fragment of the conserved region in the minicircle kinetoplast DNA (kDNA) and the results of phylogenetic analyses based on the sequence of the amplified fragment.


The proportion of dogs infected with Leishmania in Jiuzhaigou County was 36.79%, 9.43%, and 51.88% detected by ELISA, dipstick test, and PCR, respectively. The ELISA and PCR tests were more sensitive than dipstick test. The PCR method is the most sensitive way to detect dogs infected with Leishmania parasites. The total positive rate for infected dogs in the area was 59.43% by the three methods. The PCR products of 116-bp fragment amplified from the kDNA conserved region of dog blood samples and laboratory maintained L. infantum were DNA sequenced and the variation of the sequences was observed. The phylogenetic tree based on the sequences of 116-bp fragment reveals that L. infantum is more genetically related to visceralizing species L. donovani than to the Leishmania species associated with cutaneous disease.


More than half of dogs living in the endemic Jiuzhaigou County were infected by L. infantum. Control measures, such as treatment or eradication of infected dogs, or prohibition of maintaining dogs, must be taken against these infected dogs due to their role in the transmission of the infection to vectors. The phylogenetic tree based on the sequences of conserved region in kDNA of Leishmania can effectively distinguish species of Leishmania.