Detection of Leishmania Infantum in red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) in Central Greece.

PMID 26399545


This is the first record of Leishmania detection in foxes in Greece. Spleen, lymph nodes, bone marrow and blood samples were collected from 47 red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) found dead or captured, narcotized and freed after bleeding, from November 2009 to 2011, in Fthiotida prefecture, central Greece. This is an endemic for canine leishmaniasis area with several human visceral leishmaniasis cases. The samples were tested for Leishmania infantum and Leishmania tropica by molecular methods (polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and restriction fragment length polymorphism) and serology (indirect immunofluorescent antibody test; when blood samples were available). Leishmania infantum DNA was detected in 28 animals (59·5%). PCR positivity was related to animal age, sex, weight, characteristics of the area trapped, presence of leishmaniasis symptoms and presence of endo- and ecto-parasites. The results were related to dog seropositivity obtained earlier in the area. The findings support the hypothesis that this wild canid may serve as a reservoir for Leishmania in areas where the sandfly vectors are found. In the prefectures of Larisa and Magnisia, adjacent to Fthiotida, Phlebotomus perfiliewi and Phlebotomus tobbi (known vectors of L. infantum) have been reported.