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Serological and Molecular Findings of Leishmania Infection in Healthy Donkeys (Equus asinus) from a Canine Leishmaniosis Endemic Focus in Tuscany, Italy: A Preliminary Report

Dipartimento di Scienze Veterinarie, Università degli Studi di Pisa, 56124 Pisa PI, Italy
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Pathogens 2019, 8(3), 99; https://doi.org/10.3390/pathogens8030099
Received: 3 June 2019 / Revised: 4 July 2019 / Accepted: 6 July 2019 / Published: 9 July 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Emerging Parasitic Protozoa)
Leishmania parasites are considered to be emergent zoonotic pathogens, which is a new concept regarding their epidemiology and the identification of novel animal hosts. The present study is the first in Italy to evaluate anti Leishmania seroprevalence, and the first in Europe to detect parasite DNA in donkeys’ blood. The study was performed on jennies living in a Leishmania infantum endemic area of Central Italy. One hundred and ten blood samples were obtained from 67 healthy lactating Amiatina jennies that were semi-extensively reared in Tuscany. When possible, more than one sample was subsequently obtained from the same subject. All samples were processed by immunofluorescence antibody test (IFAT) and by polymerase chain reaction (PCR). For the results, 11 out of 30 animals (36.7%) showed positive scores under IFAT. In addition, 22 out of the other 37 jennies had positive scores, also. The animals showed titers ranging from 40 to 320. Furthermore, 2 subjects that were submitted for 2 and 3 blood samplings, both had more than one positive score. Moreover, 2 seropositive animals were positive for Leishmania DNA. Donkeys are considered to be a preferred source for a sandfly blood meal, even if clinical leishmaniosis has never been reported in Europe for this animal species. In the view of these facts, our preliminary findings would suggest the role of donkey as a potential reservoir for this protozoan agent. Additional studies would be welcome to elucidate the role of the donkey in Leishmania epidemiology of CanL endemic areas and to confirm the preliminary findings and the hypothesis proposed here. View Full-Text
Keywords: donkey; Leishmania; seroprevalence; Italy; IFAT; PCR; emerging protozoa; new animal hosts donkey; Leishmania; seroprevalence; Italy; IFAT; PCR; emerging protozoa; new animal hosts
MDPI and ACS Style

Nardoni, S.; Altomonte, I.; Salari, F.; Martini, M.; Mancianti, F. Serological and Molecular Findings of Leishmania Infection in Healthy Donkeys (Equus asinus) from a Canine Leishmaniosis Endemic Focus in Tuscany, Italy: A Preliminary Report. Pathogens 2019, 8, 99.

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