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Science. 2000 Nov 17;290(5495):1351-4.

Protection against cutaneous leishmaniasis resulting from bites of uninfected sand flies.

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  • 1Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


Despite the fact that Leishmania are transmitted exclusively by sand flies, none of the experimental models of leishmaniasis have established infection via sand fly bites. Here we describe a reproducible murine model of Leishmania major infection transmitted by Phlebotomus papatasi. Prior exposure of mice to bites of uninfected sand flies conferred powerful protection against Leishmania major that was associated with a strong delayed-type hypersensitivity response and with interferon-gamma production at the site of parasite delivery. These results have important implications for the epidemiology of cutaneous leishmaniasis and suggest a vaccination strategy against this and possibly other vector-borne diseases.

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