Leishmania tropica and Leishmania infantum infection in dogs and cats in central Israel

Gad Baneth*, Yaarit Nachum-Biala, Offir Adamsky, Idit Gunther

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: Three species of Leishmania cause disease in humans in Israel and are endemic in the Middle East: Leishmania infantum, Leishmania tropica and Leishmania major. These species infect dogs and cats, but little is known about their prevalence in pet populations and their clinical manifestations. A study on dog and cat Leishmania infection was conducted in a focus of human L. tropica infection in central Israel with the aim of getting insight on leishmaniosis in pets in an area where human infection is highly prevalent. Methods: Blood, demographic and clinical data were collected from dogs and cats brought for veterinary care in a focus of human L. tropica infection during 2018–2020. kDNA PCR and internal transcribed spacer1 high-resolution melt analysis PCR (ITS1 HRM PCR) with DNA sequencing were performed for the detection of Leishmania and species determination. Results: Forty-three of 189 dogs (22.8%) and 44 of 152 cats (28.9%) were positive for Leishmania spp. infection by kDNA PCR. The ITS1 HRM PCR detected six dogs (3.3%) infected with L. infantum and one (0.5%) with L. tropica, whereas six cats (3.9%) were found infected by L. infantum and five (3.3%) by L. tropica. Four of the five L. tropica-positive cats suffered from weight loss, four had azotemia, two with mild and two with severe azotemia and progressive renal disease. Three cats had gingivostomatitis; three had skin lesions with abscess and ulcers in two and scales and hair loss in another cat, which was also FIV +. This is the first report of feline L. tropica infection in Israel. Clinical information on cats with this infection from previous studies elsewhere is scarce. Conclusions: A high rate of Leishmania spp. infection, mostly estimated as sub-clinical, was found in dogs and cats admitted for veterinary care in an L. tropica focus. Among the animals in which infection could be characterized to the species level, more dogs were infected with L. infantum than with L. tropica while 5 of 11 cats were infected with L. tropica and had signs of systemic and skin disease not described before in feline L. tropica infection. Graphical Abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.]

Original languageAmerican English
Article number147
JournalParasites and Vectors
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022

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  • Cat
  • Dog
  • Israel
  • Leishmania infantum
  • Leishmania tropica
  • Middle East


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