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Seroepidemiology of canine leishmaniosis in Évora (southern Portugal): 20-year trends

Henk DFH Schallig1, Luís Cardoso23* and Saul J Semião-Santos4

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Parasitology, Koninklijk Instituut voor de Tropen (KIT), Royal Tropical Institute, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

2 Department of Veterinary Sciences, School of Agrarian and Veterinary Sciences, University of Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, Vila Real, Portugal

3 Parasite Disease Group, Instituto de Biologia Molecular e Celular (IBMC), Universidade do Porto, Oporto, Portugal

4 Center for Diagnosis and Research in Leishmaniosis, Institute of Agrarian and Environmental Mediterranean Sciences (ICAAM), University of Évora, Evora, Portugal

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Parasites & Vectors 2013, 6:100  doi:10.1186/1756-3305-6-100

Published: 15 April 2013



Canine leishmaniosis (CanL) is an endemic zoonosis in the southern regions of Europe. This paper reports the trend in CanL seroprevalence in the municipality of Évora (southern Portugal), where the disease is endemic, over a period of 20 years. The work comprises three different studies that were conducted in the years of 1990 (n = 3,614), 1999 (n = 3,563) and 2010 (n = 1,485 dogs). Blood samples were collected during the anti-rabies vaccination campaigns. Anti-Leishmania antibodies were detected with the direct agglutination test (DAT).


The total percentages of DAT seropositive dogs were 3.9% (in 1990), 9.4% (in 1999) and 5.6% (in 2010). The overall seroprevalence was significantly higher in 1999 compared to 1990, but in 2010 a significant decrease was found in comparison with 1999. However, compared to 1990 the overall seroprevalence was still significantly higher in 2010. From 1990 to 2010 seroprevalence has switched from significantly lower to higher in the rural areas. Relatively few dogs showed clinical signs of overt disease (0.8% to 2.0%) with lymphadenopathy, onychogryphosis and skin involvement as most frequently observed. Gender associated differences in seroprevalence were not found, and most commonly seropositive dogs were working or stray animals. The mean age of seropositive dogs was significantly higher than seronegative dogs in all three sampling rounds.


A high proportion of dogs, which are apparently healthy, yet seropositive, may remain an important factor in limiting the outcome of zoonotic leishmaniosis control efforts.

Canine Leishmaniosis; Direct Agglutination Test; Évora; Portugal; Seroprevalence