Phlebotomine Sand Flies (Diptera: Psychodidae) of the Palestinian West Bank: Potential Vectors of Leishmaniasis

Samir S. Sawalha, Muhamad S. Shtayeh, Haroun M. Khanfar, Alon Warburg, Ziad A. Abdeen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Two forms of leishmaniasis are endemic to the Jenin district in the northern region of the West Bank. Visceral leishmaniasis (VL), caused by Leishmania infantum, mainly affects infants. Cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL) affects a broader age group and is probably caused by L. tropica. Although the Jenin district is the most important focus of leishmaniasis in the West Bank, the sand fly fauna of the area has never been studied in a systematic manner. We collected base-line data on sand fly species, their distribution, and their feeding preferences to facilitate risk assessments for contracting leishmaniasis. Light traps, sticky traps, insecticide knockdown collections, aspirator, and human-landing collections were used. A total of 4,082 sand flies was collected in foci of confidence limits and/or VL between June and December 1998. Nine Phlebotomus species representing seven subgenera were identified: P. (Larroussius) perfiliewi transcaucasicus Perfil'ev, P. (La. ) tobbi Adler & Theodor, P. (La.) mascitti canaaniticus Adler & Theodor, P. (La.) mascitti mascitti Grassi, P. (La.) syriacus Adler & Theodor, P. (Phlebotomus) papatasi Scopoli, P. (Synphlebotomus) s.p., P. (Paraphlebotomus) sergenti Parrot, P. (Par.) jacusieli Theodor, P. (Adlerius) halepensis Theodor. Two other Phlebotomus subspecies, P. (La.) major major Annandale, P. (La .) neglectus Tonnoir, require confirmation. In addition, four species of the closely related genus, Sergentomyia were also found: S. (Sergentomyia) theodori Parrot, S. (S.) fallax Parrot, S. (Sintonius) tiberiadis Adler, Theodor & Lourie, S. (Sin.) christophersi Sinton. Among five species of sand flies collected on human bait, P. papatasi constituted ≈90% followed by P. major syriacus (8%) and P. mascitti (2%). Sand fly human-biting activity occurred through the night and it was highest between 2400 and 0300 hours. P. papatasi. P. perfiliewi, P, major and P.tobbi were the more endophilic species constituting 93% of all flies caught indoors. Seven Phlebotomus spp. constitute potential vectors of leishmaniasis but the most probable ones are as follows: P. papatasi the main human-biting species, a recognized vector of L. major (CL), P. sergenti, L. tropica (CL) and P. syriacus, L. infantum (VL).

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)321-328
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Medical Entomology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2003


  • Biting activity
  • Leishmaniasis
  • Phlebotomus
  • Resting sites
  • West bank


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