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Epidemiology of canine leishmaniasis: a comparative serological study of dogs and foxes in Amazon Brazil

  • O. Courtenay (a1) (a2), D. W. Macdonald (a2), R. Lainson (a3), J. J. Shaw (a3) (a4) and C. Dyes (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 April 2009

The paper describes a longitudinal field study of canine leishmaniasis in sympatric domestic dog and crab-eating fox (Cerdocyon thous) populations. Dogs were studied in house-to-house surveys, and foxes were studied by live-trapping and radio-telemetry. Because serological tests (IFAT in this case) for leishmaniasis are often of uncertain sensitivity and specificity, we draw conclusions comparatively. Both cross-sectional (age–prevalence) and longitudinal analyses indicate that incidence in dogs was highest in the dry season. Seasonal changes in the age–prevalence relationship for dogs suggest that serological conversion and recovery rates decline with prior exposure to infection, where ‘recovery’ may be due to loss of a positive antibody titre or death from leishmaniasis. The mean incidence in dogs was higher in the rural than in the urban population and higher in hunting dogs than pet dogs. Cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses of fox serological data suggest that foxes remain positive for longer than dogs on average, either because detectable antibody is more persistent or because they experience a lower mortality rate due to leishmaniasis.

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C. P. Doncaster & D. W. Macdonald (1990). Drifting territoriality in the red fox Vulpes vulpes. Journal of Animal Ecology 60, 423–39.

C. Dye & B. G. Williams (1993). Malnutrition, age and the risk of parasitic disease: visceral leishmaniasis revisited. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, B 254, 33–9.

R. Lainson , J. J. Shaw , F. T. Silveira & R. R. Braga (1987). American visceral leishmaniasis: on the origin of Leishmania (Leishmania) chagasi. Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 81, 517.

R. Lainson , C. Dye , J. J. Shaw , D. Macdonald , O. Courtenay , A. A. Souza & F. T. Silveira (1990). Amazonian visceral leishmaniasis: distribution of the vector Lutzomyia longipalpis (Lutz & Neiva) in relation to the fox Cerdocyon thous (L.) and the efficiency of this reservoir host as a source of infection. Memorias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz 85, 135–7.

R. J. Quinnell & C. Dye (1994). Correlates of peridomestic abundance of Lutzomyia longipalpis (Diptera: Psychodidae) in Amazonian Brazil. Medical and Veterinary Entomology 8, in Press.

E. M. Riley , O. Olerup & M. Troye-Blomberg (1991). The immune recognition of malaria antigens. Parasitology Today 7, 511.

L. Ryan , F. T. Silveira , R. Lainson & J. J. Shaw (1984). Leishmania infections in Lutzomyia longipalpis and Lu. antunesi (Diptera: Psychodidae) on the island of Marajó, Parà State, Brazil. Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 78, 547–8.

F. T. Silveira , R. Lainson , J. J. Shaw & M. M. Povoa (1982). Leishmaniasis in Brazil. XVIII. Further evidence incriminating the fox Cerdocyon thous (L.) as a reservior of Amazonian visceral leishmaniasis. Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 76, 830–2.

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