The quest for canine leishmaniasis in Romania: The presence of an autochthonous focus with subclinical infections in an area where disease occurred

Mirabela Oana Dumitrache*, Yaarit Nachum-Biala, Matan Gilad, Viorica Mircean, Cristina Daniela Cazan, Andrei Daniel Mihalca, Gad Baneth

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Background: Canine leishmaniasis is a severe, potentially life-threatening, systemic vector-borne disease of dogs caused by protozoan parasites of the genus Leishmania. Romania has been traditionally regarded as a non-endemic country for leishmaniasis with sporadic human disease cases. However, the recent report of an autochthonous canine leishmaniasis case (the first in the last 80 years) suggested the presence of an infection focus in the area of Râmnicu Vâlcea. The present study describes a survey of canine leishmaniasis in this geographical area with comparison to a georeferenced dataset of sand fly distribution based on historical literature records. Methods: The study was carried out in Râmnicu Vâlcea and included samples (serum, blood and conjunctival swabs) collected from 80 dogs including client-owned dogs from two local practices and dogs from two public shelters. Serum anti-leishmanial antibodies were assessed by ELISA. All blood and conjunctival samples were assessed by real-time quantitative PCR, targeting the leishmanial kinetoplast minicircle DNA. Results: Three dogs (3.7 %) were seropositive and another four (5.0 %) showed borderline results indicative of exposure or infection. TaqMan PCR was performed for all dogs, on both blood and conjunctival swabs. Seven dogs (8.7 %) were positive by conjunctival swab PCR and one dog (1.2 %) by blood PCR. None of the positive dogs presented clinical signs compatible with canine leishmaniasis. Conclusions: This is the first study evaluating canine leishmaniasis in a dog population in Romania by both highly sensitive PCR and serology. Although the prevalence was relatively low compared to other endemic regions, our results clearly demonstrate the presence of a canine leishmaniasis focus in Romania.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number297
JournalParasites and Vectors
Issue number1
StatePublished - 21 May 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by the CNCS-UEFISCDI Grant Agency Romania, grant number TE 299/2015 to MOD, CDC and ADM. The work of MOD, ADM and GB was carried out under the frame of the EurNegVec COST Action TD1303. We thank Angela Monica Ionică and Ioana Adriana Matei for helping with DNA extraction, Dr. Adriana Györke for statistical analysis and Cristi Domșa for the maps in Fig. 1.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Dumitrache et al.


  • Canine leishmaniasis
  • Leishmania infantum
  • PCR
  • Romania


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