Xenodiagnosis in four domestic cats naturally infected by Leishmania infantum.
Leishmaniasis is a neglected tropical disease that continues to pose a serious public health problem. Albeit dogs have long been held as the major reservoirs of Leishmania infantum, the involvement of domestic cats in the zoonotic cycle of visceral leishmaniasis has gained prominence. Here, 240 cats were evaluated by clinical signs and haematological/biochemical changes compatible with leishmaniasis and were diagnosed by serological, molecular, and parasitological techniques. Thus, four cats naturally infected by L. infantum were submitted to xenodiagnosis. A total of 203 females of Lutzomyia longipalpis were subjected to feeding on four cats, with all females completing the blood meal. Parasitological and molecular assays were carried out to evaluate the presence of L. infantum in the sand flies' midgut. Promastigotes were observed in 10 females (6.5%) that fed on one cat, and L. infantum DNA was detected in 17 (8.4%) females that fed on two cats. Our results strengthen the evidence that naturally infected cats are capable of transmitting L. infantum to sand flies.