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Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2010 May;82(5):814-8. doi: 10.4269/ajtmh.2010.09-0513.

Leishmania tropica in rock hyraxes (Procavia capensis) in a focus of human cutaneous leishmaniasis.

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  • 1School of Veterinary Medicine, Hebrew University, Rehovot, Israel.


Cutaneous leishmaniasis, caused by Leishmania tropica, has recently emerged in urban and rural foci of central and northern Israel, and constitutes a major public health concern. Rock hyraxes (Procavia capensis), the suspected natural reservoir, were trapped in the cutaneous leishmaniasis urban focus of Maale Adumim in central Israel and evaluated for L. tropica infection by real-time kinetoplast DNA (kDNA) polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and serology. Real-time PCR on blood and computerized western blot serology analysis was positive for L. tropica in 58% and 80%, respectively, of the hyraxes tested. Phylogenetic analysis of the ribosomal internal transcribed spacer 1 region indicated that similar genotypes were present in humans and hyraxes from the same habitat. The high rates of infection and exposure to L. tropica among hyraxes supports their involvement in the transmission cycle of this parasite, and their potential role as a reservoir for human disease.

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