Leishmania donovani Transmission Cycle Associated with Human Infection, Phlebotomus alexandri Sand Flies, and Hare Blood Meals, Israel

Liora Studentsky*, Laor Orshan, Fouad Akad, Irina Ben Avi, Debora Diaz, Shirly Elbaz, Orly Sagi, Gal Zagron, Lea Valinsky, Maya Davidovich-Cohen, Gad Baneth

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Cutaneous leishmaniasis caused by Leishmania major or L. tropica and visceral leishmaniasis caused by L. infantum have been reported in Israel. We collected Phlebotomus spp. sand flies in the Negev desert of southern Israel to identify circulating Leishmania spp. Of 22,636 trapped sand flies, 80% were P. alexandri. We sequenced Leishmania-specific internal transcribed spacer 1 fragments and K26 genes. Of 5,019 Phlebotomus female sand flies, 2.5% were Leishmania DNA–positive; 92% of infections were L. donovani. Phylogenetic analyses showed separate clustering of L. donovani and L. infantum. P. alexandri flies positive for L. donovani harbored blood meals from European hares. Leishmania DNA isolated from a patient with cutaneous leishmaniasis who lived in the survey area was identical to L. donovani from P. alexandri flies. We report circulation of L. donovani, a cause of visceral leishmaniasis, in southern Israel. Prompt diagnosis and Leishmania spp. identification are critical to prevent leishmaniasis progression.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)945-955
Number of pages11
JournalEmerging Infectious Diseases
Volume29
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2023

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© 2023 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). All rights reserved.

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