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Vet Parasitol. 2005 Mar 10;128(1-2):149-55. Epub 2004 Dec 21.

Participation of Rhipicephalus sanguineus (Acari: Ixodidae) in the epidemiology of canine visceral leishmaniasis.

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Departamento de Parasitologia, Instituto de Ciências Biológicas, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Caixa Postal 486, Avenida Antônio Carlos, 6627, Campus UFMG, Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, CEP 31270-901, Brazil.


The vectorial competence of the tick Rhipicephalus sanguineus is discussed in relation to the epidemiology of canine visceral leishmaniasis, taking into account its strict association with dogs and the low indices of natural infection presented by its known vector, the phlebotomine sand fly Lutzomyia longipalpis. In order to evaluate natural infection by Leishmania chagasi and the infectivity of these parasites in the tick, 39 specimens (6 females, 11 males and 22 nymphs) of R. sanguineus were removed from 21 dogs showing diverse symptoms of zoonotic visceral leishmaniasis (ZVL). Six ticks (15.4%) gave positive results for the genus Leishmania using the PCR technique. To determine the infectivity of the parasites, 36 hamsters were inoculated orally and peritoneally with macerates of ticks removed from nine dogs symptomatic for visceral leishmaniasis. After 6 months the hamsters were sacrificed and necropsied. Serum was removed for IFAT, as well as spleen and liver fragments to make imprint smears and for PCR. Eight (88.9%) of these dogs presented ticks that were infective for 14 hamsters (41.2%), 12 (85.7%) of them infected peritoneally and two (14.3%) orally. PCR revealed 27 smears (40.9%) to be positive, 20 (62.5%) of them infected peritoneally and seven (20.6%) orally. IFAT showed 14 positive animals (41.2%). Based on these findings, we suggest that the vectorial capacity of R. sanguineus for L. chagasi should be evaluated further, opening new perspectives in the epidemiology of ZVL.

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