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Int J Parasitol. 2005 Oct;35(11-12):1169-80.

The current status of zoonotic leishmaniases and approaches to disease control.

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  • 1Dipartimento di Malattie Infettive, Parassitarie e Immunomediate, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Viale Regina Elena 299, 00161 Roma, Italy. gramicci@iss.it


Leishmaniases are a complex of world-wide diseases with a range of clinical and epidemiological features caused by Leishmania spp. of protozoan parasites. Among 15 well-recognised Leishmania species known to infect humans, 13 have zoonotic nature, which include agents of visceral, cutaneous and mucocutaneous forms of the disease in both the Old and New Worlds. Currently, leishmaniases show a wider geographic distribution and increased global incidence of human disease than previously known. Environmental, demographic and human behavioural factors contribute to the changing landscape of leishmaniasis, which includes increasing risk factors for zoonotic cutaneous leishmaniases and new scenarios associated with the zoonotic visceral leishmaniases. The latter consist of the northward spread of Leishmania infantum transmission in Europe and America, the identification of unusual mammal hosts, and the decline of HIV-Leishmania co-infections in southern Europe following the introduction of the highly active antiretroviral therapy. Few advances have been made in the surveillance and control of the zoonotic leishmaniasis, however a number of tools have been developed for the control of the canine reservoir of L. infantum. These include: (i) several canine vaccine candidates, in particular an FML Leishmania enriched fraction showing good clinical protection, has been registered in Brazil for veterinary use; (ii) a number of insecticide-based preparations have been specifically registered for dog protection against sand fly bites. Laboratory and field studies have shown improved efficacy of these preparations for both individual and mass protection.

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