Multilocus microsatellite typing (MLMT) was used to investigate the genetic variation among 44 Israeli and Palestinian strains of L. infantum isolated from infected dogs and human cases to determine their population structure and to compare them with strains isolated from different European countries. Most of the Israeli and Palestinian strains had their own individual MLMT profiles; a few shared the same profile. A Bayesian model-based approach and phylogenetic reconstructions based on genetic distances inferred two main populations that were significantly different from the European strains: population A, containing 16 strains from places in the West Bank and 11 strains from central Israel; and population B, containing 7 strains from northern Israel, 9 from central Israel, and one Palestinian strain from the Jenin District. Geographically distributed sub-populations were detected within population B. These results demonstrate similar disease dynamics in Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The re-emergence of VL in the case of population A is more likely owing to increased dog and human contact with sylvatic cycles of parasitic infection rather than to recent introduction from the older foci of northern Israel. The latter scenario could be true for population B found in few foci of Central Israel.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We thank Dr Khaldoun Bader, Mr Samir Sawalha and Ms Suheir Ereqat for supplying strains from the Jenin District. This study was in partial fulfilment of the requirements of Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin Germany toward the PhD degree of Mr Ahmad Amro, who was supported by a scholarship from the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD).
- Leishmania infantum
- microsatellite typing
- population genetics, molecular epidemiology
- visceral leishmaniasis