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Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis. 2012 Mar;12(3):214-22. doi: 10.1089/vbz.2011.0004. Epub 2012 Jan 4.

Re-emergence of visceral and cutaneous leishmaniasis in the Greek Island of Crete.

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Laboratory of Clinical Bacteriology, Parasitology, Zoonoses, and Geographical Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Crete, Crete, Greece.


Leishmaniases are vector-borne diseases transmitted by phlebotomine sand flies. Three species of Leishmania are found in the Mediterranean basin: Leishmania infantum, the most common species responsible for both visceral (VL) and cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL); Leishmania major, found in North Africa and Middle East causing CL; Leishmania tropica with a limited presence in Europe, causing CL. During the last 25 years, Crete has become an endemic zone for L. infantum with a high number of infected dogs and an increasing number of human cases every year; in the last 4 years, the incidence has reached an average of seven VL patients per year in a population of 600,000. At the same time, CL has re-emerged in Crete due to L. tropica, with an average of three CL cases per year in the last 4 years. Isolates were typed as L. infantum MON-1 and MON-98 and L. tropica MON-300, a zymodeme not reported before. Both VL and CL have spread to the whole of the island during the last 25 years, primarily in semi-urban and urban areas with altitudes of 0-50 m. The prevailing Phlebotomus species were Phlebotomus neglectus (proven vector of L. infantum) and Phlebotomus similis (suspected vector of L. tropica).

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