Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Domestic mammals as reservoirs for Leishmania donovani on the Indian subcontinent: possibility and consequences on elimination.

Abstract

Leishmania donovani is the causative agent of historically anthroponotic visceral leishmaniasis (VL) on the Indian subcontinent (ISC). L. donovani is transmitted by the sand fly species Phlebotomus argentipes. Our collaborative group and others have shown that sand flies trapped outside in endemic villages have fed on cattle and dogs in addition to people. Domestic animals are reservoirs for L. donovani complex spp., particularly L. infantum, in other endemic areas. Multiple studies using quantitative PCR or serological detection methods have demonstrated that goats, cattle, rats and dogs were diagnostically positive for L. donovani infection or exposure in eastern Africa, Bangladesh, Nepal and India. There is a limited understanding of the extent to which L. donovani infection of domestic animals drives transmission to other animals or humans on the ISC. Evidence from other vector-borne disease elimination strategies indicated that emerging infections in domestic species hindered eradication. The predominant lesson learned from these other situations is that non-human reservoirs must be identified, controlled and/or prevented. Massive efforts are underway for VL elimination on the Indian subcontinent. Despite these herculean efforts, residual VL incidence persists. The spectre of an animal reservoir complicating elimination efforts haunts the final push towards full VL control. Better understanding of L. donovani transmission on the Indian subcontinent and rigorous consideration of how non-human reservoirs alter VL ecology are critical to sustain elimination goals.