Preliminary study on investigation of zoonotic visceral leishmaniasis in endemic foci of Ethiopia by detecting Leishmania infections in rodents

Wossenseged Lemma*, Asrat Bizuneh, Habte Tekie, Habtamu Belay, Hirut Wondimu, Aysheshm Kassahun, Welelta Shiferaw, Meshesha Balkew, Ibrahim Abassi, Gad Baneth, Asrat Hailu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Objective To investigate the zoonotic visceral leishmaniasis (ZVL) by identification of the most probable reservoir hosts using parasite isolation and analysis of a possible transmission dynamics of the disease in extra-domestic agricultural fields and rural villages. Methods Rodents were collected from selected study sites in kala-azar endemic areas based on information for localities of kala-azar cases for screening of Leishmania infections using parasitological, serological and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) from March, 2013 to January, 2014. Ketamine (Clorketam Veterinary) was used to anaesthesize the rodents according the prescribed dosage (average 2 mg/kg for intra-venous route). The blood obtained using sterile needle was dropped into sterile filter paper and allowed to air dry before sealing in plastic bags. The tissues from liver, spleen and skin were macerated in Locke's solution before transferring them into NNN medium. Blood and touch smears of liver, spleen, skin and bone marrow were prepared for fixing using methanol and staining by Giemsa stain for microscopy. These tissues were also used for DNA extractions and PCR amplification of Leishmania infection. Results A total of 335 rodents (13 species) were analyzed by sampling internal organs. The infection rate by PCR was 11.1% (6/54) for Arvicanthis nilothicus compared to 17.6% (3/17) and 12.5% (2/16) for Acomys cahirinus and Tarera (G) robustus respectively. Almost all the infections were found from bone marrow samples (8/48 or 16.7%) compared with 1/91 (1.1%) liver, 2/87 (2.2%) spleen and 0/87 (0%) skin. In all study sites with past human VL cases, rodents and proved vectors shared similar habitats. Conclusions Leishmania donovani might circulate among different species of rodents in kala-azar endemic lowlands and valleys of Ethiopia by Phlebotomus orientalis and Phlebotomus martini. Detailed studies to substantiate the preliminary data on the possible role of these rodents are urgently needed.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)418-422
Number of pages5
JournalAsian Pacific Journal of Tropical Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Hainan Medical University


  • Ethiopia
  • Leishmania donovani
  • Phlebotomus martini
  • Phlebotomus orientalis
  • Reservoir hosts
  • Zoonotic visceral leishmaniasis


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