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Trop Med Int Health. 2014 Mar;19(3):355-363. doi: 10.1111/tmi.12258. Epub 2014 Jan 2.

High density of Leishmania major and rarity of other mammals' Leishmania in zoonotic cutaneous leishmaniasis foci, Iran.

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Molecular Systematics Laboratory, Parasitology Department, Pasteur Institute of Iran, Tehran, Iran.



Only Leishmania major is well known as a causative agent of zoonotic cutaneous leishmaniasis (ZCL) in Iran. Our objective was to find Leishmania parasites circulating in reservoir hosts, sand flies and human simultaneously.


Sand flies, rodents and prepared smears of humans were sampled. DNA of Leishmania parasites was extracted, and two fragments of ITS-rDNA gene amplified by PCR. RFLP and sequencing were employed to identify Leishmania parasites.


Leishmania major and L. turanica were identified unequivocally by targeting and sequencing ITS-rDNA from humans, rodents and sand flies. The new Leishmania species close to gerbilli (GenBank Accession Nos. EF413076; EF413087) was discovered only in sand flies.


Based on parasite detection of ITS-rDNA in main and potential reservoir hosts and vectors and humans, we conclude that at least two Leishmania species are common in the Turkmen Sahra ZCL focus. Phylogenetic analysis proved that the new Leishmania is closely related to Leishmania mammal parasites (Leishmania major, Leishmania turanica, Leishmania gerbilli). Its role as a principal agent of ZCL is unknown because it was found only in sand flies. Our findings shed new light on the transmission cycles of several Leishmania parasites in sand flies, reservoir hosts and humans.


Iran; Leishmania major; Leishmania turanica; zoonotic cutaneous leishmaniasis

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