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Low infectiousness of a wildlife host of Leishmania infantum: the crab-eating fox is not important for transmission

  • O. COURTENAY (a1) (a2), R. J. QUINNELL (a1) (a3), L. M. GARCEZ (a4) and C. DYE (a1) (a5)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 January 2003

The epidemiological role of the crab-eating fox Cerdocyon thous in the transmission of Leishmania infantum is assessed in a longitudinal study in Amazon Brazil. A total of 37 wild-caught foxes were immunologically and clinically monitored, and 26 foxes exposed to laboratory colonies of the sandfly vector Lutzomyia longipalpis, over a 15-month period. In total 78% (29/37) of foxes were seropositive for anti-Leishmania IgG on at least 1 occasion, and 38% (8/37) had infections confirmed by PCR and/or by culture. Point prevalences were 74% (serology), 15% (PCR), and 26% (culture). No signs of progressive disease were observed. None of the foxes were infectious to the 1469 sandflies dissected from 44 feeds. A conservative estimate of the possible contribution of foxes to transmission was 9% compared to 91% by sympatric domestic dogs. These results show that crab-eating fox populations do not maintain a transmission cycle independently of domestic dogs. The implication is that they are unlikely to introduce the parasite into Leishmania-free dog populations.

Corresponding author
Corresponding author: Ecology and Epidemiology Group, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL, UK. Tel: +44 24 7652 4550. Fax: +44 24 7652 4619. E-mail:
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