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Eur J Epidemiol. 1999 Mar;15(3):271-6.

Asymptomatic canine leishmaniasis in Greater Athens area, Greece.

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Hellenic Pasteur Institute, Department of Parasitology, Athens, Greece.


Leishmania (L.) infantum is the etiological agent of human and canine visceral leishmaniasis in the Mediterranean subregion. Domestic dogs are the main reservoir of the parasite in most urban areas. A survey of 1638 asymptomatic dogs registered in Greater Athens area was carried out in the Hellenic Pasteur Institute during the period 1986-1994 to investigate the prevalence of canine visceral leishmaniasis in apparently healthy dogs. Dog sera was tested using the indirect fluorescent antibody technique (IFAT). Of the 1638 dogs, 366 (22.4%) had anti-Leishmania infantum antibodies at titre greater than or equal to 1/200 which were considered positive; 53 (3.2%) had antibody titres of 1/100 and were considered uncertain; and 1219 (74.4%) dogs were seronegative. From the 366 seropositive dogs, 212 were positive at 1/1600 serum dilution, 57 at 1/800, 38 at 1/400 and 59 at 1/200. The results were plotted according the site of residence, breed and age. The rate of asymptomatic infections with L. infantum dogs in Greater Athens area appears to be significantly high. Although there is an apparent lack of clinical symptoms in these dogs, asymptomatic animals harbor a chronic L. infantum infection and as such consist a 'dangerous' reservoir with regard to the spread of the disease.

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