Molecular Detection of Leishmania major in Hemiechinus auritus, A Potential Reservoir of Zoonotic Cutaneous Leishmaniasis in Damghan, Iran
AbstractBackground: Zoonotic cutaneous leishmaniasis caused by Leishmania major is endemic in 17 of 31 Iranian provinces. Various species of rodents have been introduced as the main reservoirs of the disease. This study was conducted to determine the natural infection of hedgehogs with Leishmania spp. in an endemic area of the disease, northern Iran.Methods: Fifteen long-eared hedgehogs were captured alive during 18 months study period, from Apr 2015 to Sep 2016, in Damghan City, Semnan Province, Iran. The animals were identified using apparent characteristics and to determine the Leishmania infection, impression smears were prepared from their ear lobes, hind feet, livers, and spleens. Microscopic examination and semi-nested PCR were applied to determine the infection and to identify the parasites species respectively.Results: All examined animals were identified as Hemiechinus auritus (Family: Erinaceidae). In microscopic examination, 8 (53.3%) samples were shown to be infected with Leishmania parasites. The higher and lower rate of the infection was observed in the ears as well as the feet and in the liver specimens, 53.3%, and 33.3% respectively. Forty percent (6/ 15) of the samples were molecularly positive and all were identified as L. major parasites. All the examined animals in autumn and 50% of them in summer were shown to be infected with Leishmania parasites.Conclusion: This study demonstrated the natural infection of H. auritus with L. major for the first time in Damghan City and introduced these mammals as new potential reservoirs of ZCL in the study area.
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