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J Infect Dis. 2015 Jan 15;211(2):267-73. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiu380. Epub 2014 Jul 7.

Wild gorillas as a potential reservoir of Leishmania major.

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  • 1Aix Marseille Université, URMITE, UM63, CNRS 7278, IRD 198, Inserm 1095, Marseille.
  • 2Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, University Montpellier 1, UMI 233, France.


Vector-borne parasites of the genus Leishmania are responsible for severe human diseases. Cutaneous leishmaniasis, a common form of the disease, is most often caused by the transmission of Leishmania major to humans by female phlebotomine sand flies. Apes are increasingly being seen as a source of zoonotic diseases, including malaria and rickettsiosis. To examine whether gorillas harbor Leishmania species, we screened fecal samples from wild western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) in Cameroon for the presence of these pathogens. Of 91 wild gorilla fecal samples, 12 contained Leishmania parasites, and 4 contained phlebotomine sand fly vectors. The molecular identity was determined by running 3 different polymerase chain reaction tests for detection of L. major. Next, fluorescence in situ hybridization was performed to visualize L. major parasites in fecal samples from the gorillas. Both promastigote and amastigote forms of the parasite were found. This work strongly suggests that wild gorillas carry pathogenic Leishmania parasites.

© The Author 2014. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please e-mail:


FISH; Leishmania major; PCR; detection; feces; gorilla

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