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J Med Entomol. 2009 May;46(3):649-63.

Impact of phlebotomine sand flies on U.S. military operations at Tallil Air Base, Iraq: 4. Detection and identification of leishmania parasites in sand flies.

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520th Theater Army Medical Laboratory, Tallil Air Base, Iraq.


Sand flies collected between April 2003 and November 2004 at Tallil Air Base, Iraq, were evaluated for the presence of Leishmania parasites using a combination of a real-time Leishmania-generic polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay and sequencing of a 360-bp fragment of the glucose-6-phosphate-isomerase (GPI) gene. A total of 2,505 pools containing 26,574 sand flies were tested using the real-time PCR assay. Leishmania DNA was initially detected in 536 pools; however, after extensive retesting with the real-time PCR assay, a total of 456 pools were considered positive and 80 were considered indeterminate. A total of 532 samples were evaluated for Leishmania GPI by sequencing, to include 439 PCR-positive samples, 80 PCR-indeterminate samples, and 13 PCR-negative samples. Leishmania GPI was detected in 284 samples that were sequenced, to include 281 (64%) of the PCR-positive samples and 3 (4%) of the PCR-indeterminate samples. Of the 284 sequences identified as Leishmania, 261 (91.9%) were L. tarentolae, 18 (6.3%) were L. donovani-complex parasites, 3 (1.1%) were L. tropica, and 2 were similar to both L. major and L. tropica. Minimum field infection rates were 0.09% for L. donovani-complex parasites, 0.02% for L. tropica, and 0.01% for the L. major/tropica-like parasite. Subsequent sequencing of a 600-bp region of the "Hyper" gene of 12 of the L. donovani-complex parasites showed that all 12 parasites were L. infantum. These data suggest that L. infantum was the primary leishmanial threat to U.S. military personnel deployed to Tallil Air Base. The implications of these findings are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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