Leishmaniasis, a public health problem in Tunisia, are diseases caused by different Leishmania species. Cutaneous leishmaniasis is present from the North to the South under different forms, due to Leishmania (L.) major, L. infantum or L. tropica. Whereas, Psammomys (P.) obesus is the confirmed reservoir host of L. major, those of L. tropica and dermotropic L. infantum wait to be identified. Importantly, P. vexillaris species have been recently highlighted; however, no studies have been carried out to explore its potential role in leishmaniasis epidemiology.Seventy two rodents were collected from Central and South-West of Tunisia between 2007 and 2010. Using several methods, 43 animals were identified as P. obesus and 29 as P. vexillaris. Leishmania kinetoplast DNA was detected in liver samples by real-time PCR in 18 P. obesus and in 8 P. vexillaris. Then, the direct sequencing of the amplified internal transcribed spacer 1, allowed the identification of L. infantum DNA in five P. obesus and in three P. vexillaris, as well as L. tropica DNA in three other P. vexillaris. Whereas, PCR fluorescent fragment length analysis of the 7 spliced leaders, allowed identifying L. major among infected P. obesus and P. vexillaris, and interestingly co-infection (L. major/L. infantum) among two P. obesus.We report here for the first time, the infection of P. obesus, from Central Tunisia, by L. infantum. Suggesting that P. obesus the known reservoir host of L. major, may also serve as reservoir host for L. infantum and thus play a role in the spread of sporadic cutaneous or visceral leishmaniasis in this region. Of equal importance, this work establish for the first time, the natural infection of P. vexillaris by different Leishmania species, suggesting its potential epidemiological role as reservoir host.
Infection, Genetics and Evolution – Elsevier
Published: Apr 1, 2018
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