Canine leishmaniosis caused by Leishmania major and Leishmania tropica: Comparative findings and serology

Gad Baneth*, Daniel Yasur-Landau, Matan Gilad, Yaarit Nachum-Biala

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Background: Infection and clinical disease associated with Leishmania major and Leishmania tropica, two common agents of human cutaneous leishmaniosis, have rarely been reported in dogs. This study describes dogs infected with these Leishmania spp. prevalent in the Middle East and North Africa, and compares the serological response of dogs infected with Leishmania infantum, L. major or L. tropica to whole promastigote antigen enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) of each species and to rK39 dipstick. Results: Leishmania major infection in a 5-month-old male dog was associated with alopecic and ulcerative periocular and limb skin lesions which responded to allopurinol treatment. Infection was detected by skin and blood polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and confirmed by DNA sequencing but the dog was seronegative. Leishmania tropica infection was detected in a 3-month-old female dog co-infected with Babesia vogeli and Anaplasma platys and with no skin lesions. PCR and DNA sequencing of the blood and parasite culture were positive for L. tropica. Sera from 11 dogs infected with L. infantum, L. major or L. tropica were reactive with all three Leishmania spp. antigens except for sera from a dog with L. major infection. No significant differences were found between reactivity of dog sera to the antigen of the infecting species, or to the other Leishmania spp. antigens. Sera from dogs infected with L. infantum and L. tropica were positive with the rK39 antigen kit, while dogs with L. major infection were seronegative. Conclusions: Skin lesions in L. major infected dogs from this study and previous reports (n = 2) were ulcerative and located on the muzzle, feet and foot pads and not associated with generalized lymphadenomegaly and splenomegaly. In previous L. tropica infections, skin lesions were proliferative mucocutaneous in young dogs (n = 2), or associated with widespread dermatitis, lymphadenomegaly and splenomegaly in older dogs with similarity to L. infantum infection (n = 2). This study suggests that ELISA serology with whole promastigote antigen is not distinctive between L. infantum, L. major and L. tropica canine infections and that some L. major infections are not seropositive. PCR with DNA sequencing should be used to discriminate between canine infections with these three species.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number113
JournalParasites and Vectors
Issue number1
StatePublished - 13 Mar 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 The Author(s).


  • Canine leishmaniosis
  • Co-infections
  • Cutaneous leishmaniosis
  • Israel
  • Leishmania major
  • Leishmania tropica


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