Comparative Clinical Pathology

, Volume 21, Issue 5, pp 801–807 | Cite as

Asymptomatic domestic dogs are carriers of Leishmania infantum: possible reservoirs host for human visceral leishmaniasis in southern Iran

  • Mahdi FakharEmail author
  • Mohammad Hossein Motazedian
  • Qasem Asgari
  • Mohsen Kalantari
Original Article


In the past few years, the incidence of human visceral leishmaniasis (HVL) has increased in many districts of Fars Province, southwest of Iran, particularly, among communities of nomadic tribes. Recent epidemiological reports in Leishmania infantum endemic regions of Iran indicate that more than 50–70% of seropositive dogs are asymptomatic for Leishmania infection. Between 2004 and 2006, blood samples were collected from 110 domestic dogs from nomadic and rural areas. Each of these samples was tested for anti-Leishmania antibodies, in direct agglutination tests (DATs), and for L. infantum kinetoplast deoxyribonucleic acid (kDNA), in polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based assays. Of the 110 dogs, 5.5% (6/110) were found seropositive and 23% (25/110) PCR-positive. Four of the six seropositive (67%) and 22 of the 25 PCR-positive (88%) were asymptomatic. The rate of infection in dogs from nomadic communities was higher (27%) than dogs from rural areas (18%). Since positivity in the PCR-based assay indicated the presence of L. infantum amastigotes in the peripheral blood of 23% of the subjects, it is clear that these asymptomatic dogs (88%) are quite common in the study areas and probably act as reservoirs in the transmission of Leishmania parasites, to humans and to other dogs, by sandflies. Moreover, our study showed that application of PCR to buffy coat samples gave a better estimate of the real rate of infection in asymptomatic dogs than DAT.


Canine visceral leishmaniasis Asymptomatic dogs Leishmania infantum, Polymerase chain reaction Direct agglutination test 



The authors would like to thank the Office of Vice Chancellor for Research of Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz University for financial support of this project (no. 84-2639) and the organization of nomadic affairs and health centers of Fars Province for providing the facility for the field sampling. The authors are grateful to Dr. M. Mohebali for DA antigen preparation, to K. Azizi and Dr. D. Mehrabani for helping in sample collection, and to Dr. H. Noyes for valuable comments and reading the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mahdi Fakhar
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Mohammad Hossein Motazedian
    • 3
  • Qasem Asgari
    • 3
  • Mohsen Kalantari
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Parasitology and Mycology, School of MedicineMazandaran University of Medical SciencesSariIran
  2. 2.Molecular and Cellular Biology Research CenterMazandaran University of Medical SciencesSariIran
  3. 3.Department of Parasitology and Mycology, School of MedicineShiraz University of Medical SciencesShirazIran

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