Sero-prevalence of Leishmania donovani infection in labour migrants and entomological risk factors in extra-domestic habitats of Kafta-Humera lowlands - kala-azar endemic areas in the northwest Ethiopia

Wossenseged Lemma*, Habte Tekie, Solomon Yared, Meshesha Balkew, Teshome Gebre-Michael, Alon Warburg, Asrat Hailu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Background: Visceral leishmaniasis (VL) or kala-azar cases in seasonal labour migrants from highland areas are addressed to travel history to the Metema-Humera lowlands, northwestern Ethiopia. Factors that affect the incidence of VL in extra-domestic habitats were not evaluated. The aim of this study was to evaluate sero-prevalence of Leishmania donovani infection in randomly selected labour migrant workers and entomological risk factors which might affect the incidence of kala-azar. Methods: Sero-prevalence of L. donovani infection in labour migrants was obtained from Direct Agglutination Test (DAT) using blood samples. Logistic regression analysis was used to correlate the possible risk factors with L. donovani infection. The season for L. donovani infection or Phlebotomus orientalis bite was estimated from the study of population dynamic of P. orientalis in areas where the blood was sampled. Result: A total of 7, 443 P. orientalis (1,748 female and 5,695 male) were collected from agricultural fields and thickets of Acacia seyal using 461 CDC light traps. The highest mean number of P. orientalis/trap in the thickets of A. seyal and agricultural fields were 46.9 and 43.9 in March and April respectively. The mean P. orientalis/trap for November - May dry season in agricultural fields (11.39) and thickets of A. seyal (25.30) were higher compared to 0.66 in fields and 3.92 in thickets during June - August weeding season. Of the total 359 labour migrants screened using DAT, 45 (12.5%) were DAT-positive (≥1:800) for L. donovani infections. Very high titers (1:12800) were found in 3 (0.8%) individuals who had the risk of kala-azar development. Statistically significant p-values and odd ratio (OR) for staying in the areas both in the weeding and harvesting seasons (p = 0.035; OR = 2.83) and sleeping in the agricultural fields (p = 0.01; OR = 15.096) were positively correlated with L. donovani infection. Night harvest (p = 0.028; OR = 0.133) and knowledge about sign or symptoms (p = 0.042; OR = 0.383) were negatively associated with this infection. Conclusions: Sleeping in open agricultural fields was related with L. donovani infections in labour migrants during June-August weeding season.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number99
JournalBMC Infectious Diseases
Issue number1
StatePublished - 12 Dec 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to thank the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Global Health Program [Grant number OPPGH5336] and Gondar University for funding this research. We would also thank Kedir Ali for blood sampling, Abel Haile for technical assistance during sand fly sampling, and Shewangizaw Sime (driver) and all staffs in Humera who assisted us during our field and laboratory activities. Our thanks also go to Tigray regional state and western Tigray zone administration for their unreserved co-operation during the execution of this research.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Lemma et al.; licensee BioMed Central.


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