Diversity and altitudinal distribution of phlebotomine sand flies (Diptera: Psychodidae) in visceral leishmaniasis endemic areas of northwest Ethiopia

Solomon Yared*, Araya Gebresilassie, Essayas Akililu, Kebede Deribe, Meshesha Balkew, Alon Warburg, Asrat Hailu, Teshome Gebre-Michael

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Background The Leishmaniases are caused by the protozoan parasites of the genus Leishmania and are transmitted to humans by the bite of infected female phlebotomine sand flies. Both visceral and cutaneous leishmaniases are widely distributed in different parts of Ethiopia. The aim of this study was to determine the diversity and altitudinal distribution of phlebotomine sand flies from Kafta Humera to Gondar town in northwest Ethiopia. Methods Seven localities were selected with distinct altitudinal variations between 550 m above sea level (m a.s.l) and 2300 m a.s.l. In each locality, sand flies were collected using standard CDC light traps and sticky traps during the active sand fly season from December 2012 to May 2013. Shannon-Weiner species diversity index and Jaccard's coefficient were used to estimate species diversity and similarity between altitudes and localities, respectively. Results A total of 89,044 sand flies (41,798 males and 47, 246 females) were collected from the seven localities/towns throughout the study period. Twenty-two species belonging to 11 species in the genus Phlebotomus and 11 species in the genus Sergentomyia were documented. Of these, Sergentomyia clydei (25.87%), S. schwetzi (25.21%), S. africana (24.65%), S. bedfordi (8.89%), Phlebotomus orientalis (6.43%), and S. antennata (4.8%) were the most prevalent species. The remaining 10 Phlebotomus species and six Sergentomyia were less frequent catches. In CDC light trap and sticky trap, higher species diversity and richness for both male and female sand flies was observed at low altitude ranging from 550 to 699 m a.s.l in Adebay village in Kafta Humera district whereas low species richness and high evenness of both sexes were also observed in an altitude 1950–2300 m a.s.l. Conclusion The results revealed that the presence of leishmaniasis vectors such as P. orientalis, P. longipes, P. papatasi, and P. duboscqi in different altitudes in northwest Ethiopia. P. orientalis a vector of L. donovani, occurred between altitude 500–1100 m a.s.l, the area could be at high risk of VL. P. longipes a vector of L. aethiopica, was recorded in the highland area in Tikil-Dingay and Gondar town, implicating the possibility of CL transmission. Hence, further investigation into vector competence in relation to leishmaniasis (VL and CL) in the region is very vital.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalActa Tropica
StatePublished - Dec 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 The Authors


  • Altitudinal transect
  • Leishmaniasis
  • Phlebotomus
  • Sergentomyia
  • Shannon-Weiner
  • Species richness


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