The incidence of visceral leishmaniasis (VL) in Albania is higher than in other countries of southern Europe, however the role of local sand fly species in the transmission of Leishmania infantum was not addressed conclusively. In 2006, a country-wide collection of sand flies performed in 14 sites selected based on recent occurrence of VL cases showed that Phlebotomus neglectus was by far the most prevalent species (95.6%). Furthermore, 15% of pools made from 422 P. neglectus females tested positive for Leishmania sp. genomic DNA. In the same year, Culicoides trapping was performed for bluetongue disease surveillance in 91 sites of southern Albania, targeting livestock farms regardless recent occurrence of VL in the surveyed areas. In 35 sites where sand flies were collected along with midges, Phlebotomus perfiliewi was the most prevalent among the Phlebotomus species identified, however search for leishmanial DNA in females of this species was unsuccessful. In 2011, sand flies were trapped in 4 sites of north Albania characterized by high VL incidence, and females were dissected to search for Leishmania infections. Both P. neglectus and P. tobbi were collected at high densities. Two positive specimens were detected from a sample of 64 P. neglectus trapped in one site (3.1%). Parasites were successfully cultured from one specimen and characterized as belonging to Leishmania infantum zymodeme MON-1, the only zymodeme so far identified as the agent of human and canine leishmaniasis in the country. Altogether our studies indicate that P. neglectus is the main leishmaniasis vector in Albania.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)