Original Article

Transmission of Leishmania infantum by Rhipicephalus sanguineus (Acari: Ixodidae) in Dogs


Background: Rhipicephalus sanguineus is the most widely distributed tick in the world, which is partly due to its biological flexibility and the global distribution of its major host, the domestic dog. In Mediterranean region it could be principal reservoir host for Leishmania infantum, usually transmitted by the phlebotomine sand flies. In this study, we evaluated the vector potential of R. sanguineus in transmitting L. infantum to uninfected dogs.

Methods: During 2014, five dogs with clinical manifestations of canine visceral leishmaniasis (CVL), high anti-Leishmania antibody titers and tick infestation, were selected from CVL endemic areas (Tehran and Alborz provinces). At least, twenty live ticks were removed from each infected dog. After morphological identification, the ticks were divided into two groups; ticks belonging to the first group were dissected for parasitological examinations and semi-nested PCR assay, and those of the second group were selected for the transmission of CVL caused by L. infantum to uninfected dogs. Following tick infestation, all uninfected dogs were kept for 9 months and examined monthly for clinical and serological tests.

Results: Nearly, 67% of ticks were infected by L. infantum using the semi-nested PCR. All other parasitological tests of ticks were negative. Clinical examinations and serological tests of the investigated dogs revealed negative results. Nested-PCR test results performed on splenic biopsy samples of dogs were also negative.

Conclusion: L. infantum-positive R. sanguineus ticks were unable to transfer L. infantum from infected dogs to healthy ones. The detection of L. infantum DNA in ticks collected from naturally infected dogs by semi-nested PCR does not prove their vectorial competence.

Parola P, Raoult D. Tick-borne bacterial diseases emerging in Europe. Clin Microbiol Infect. 2001:7(2):80-3.

Trotta M, Nicetto M, Fogliazza A et al. Detection of Leishmania infantum, Babesia canis, and rickettsiae in ticks removed from dogs living in Italy. Ticks Tick Borne Dis. 2012;3(5-6):294-7.

Dantas-Torres F. Ticks as vectors of Leishmania parasites. Trends Parasitol. 2011;27(4):155-9.

Otranto D, Dantas-Torres F, Breitschwerdt EB. Managing canine vector-borne diseases of zoonotic concern: part one. Trends Parasitol. 2009;25(4):157-63.

Dantas-Torres F. Biology and ecology of the brown dog tick, Rhipicephalus sanguineus. Parasit Vectors. 2010;3:26.

Miró G, Cardoso L, Pennisi MG et al. Canine leishmaniosis–new concepts and insights on an expanding zoonosis: part two. Trends Parasitol. 2008;24(8):371-7.

Coutinho MT, Bueno LL, Sterzik A et al. Participation of Rhipicephalus sanguineus (Acari: Ixodidae) in the epidemiology of canine visceral leishmaniasis. Vet Parasitol. 2005;128(1-2):149-55.

Dantas-Torres F, Lorusso V, Testini G et al. Detection of Leishmania infantum in Rhipicephalus sanguineus ticks from Brazil and Italy. Parasitol Res. 2010;106(4):857-60..

Moshfe A, Mohebali M, Edrissian G et al. Canine visceral leishmaniasis: Asymptomatic infected dogs as a source of L. infantum infection. Acta Trop. 2009:112(2):101-5.

Mohebali M, Hajjaran H, Hamzavi Y et al. Epidemiological aspects of canine visceral leishmaniosis in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Vet Parasitol. 2005;129(3-4):243-51.

Mohebali M, Edrissian GH, Shirzadi MR et al. An observational study on the current distribution of visceral leishmaniasis in different geographical zones of Iran and implication to health policy. Travel Med Infect Dis. 2011;9(2):67-74.

Mohebali M. Visceral leishmaniasis in Iran: Review of the Epidemiological and Clinical Features. Iran J Parasitol. 2013; 8(3):348-58.

Mohebali M, Arzamani K, Zarei Z et al. Canine Visceral Leishmaniasis in Wild Canines (Fox, Jackal, and Wolf) in Northeastern Iran Using Parasitological, Serological, and Molecular Methods. J Arthropod Borne Dis. 2016;10(4):538-545.

Mohebali M, Edrissian G, Nadim A et al. Application of Direct Agglutination Test (DAT) for the Diagnosis and Seroepidemiological Studies of Visceral Leishmaniasis in Iran. Iran J Parasitol. 2006; 1(1):15-25.

de Carvalho MR, Valença HF, da Silva FJ et al. Natural Leishmania infantum infection in Migonemyia migonei (Franca, 1920) (Diptera:Psychodidae:Phlebotominae) the putative vector of visceral leishmaniasis in Pernambuco State, Brazil. Acta Trop. 2010;116(1):108-10.

Duprey ZH, Steurer FJ, Rooney JA et al. Canine visceral leishmaniasis, United States and Canada, 2000-2003. Emerg Infect Dis. 2006;12(3):440-6.

Rosypal AC, Troy GC, Zajac AM et al. Transplacental transmission of a North American isolate of Leishmania infantum in an experimentally infected beagle. J Parasitol. 2005;91(4):970-2.

Silva FL, Oliveira RG, Silva TM et al. Venereal transmission of canine visceral leishmaniasis. Vet Parasitol. 2009;160(1-2):55-9.

de Freitas E, Melo MN, da Costa-Val AP et al. Transmission of Leishmania infantum via blood transfusion in dogs: potential for infection and importance of clinical factors. Vet Parasitol. 2006; 137(1-2):159-67.

Blanc G, Caminopetros J. Transmission of Mediterranean EA by a Tick. Compte Rendu de l'Academie des Sciences. 1930; 191(23):1162-4.

McKenzie K. A study of the transmission of canine leishmaniasis by the tick, Rhipicephalus sanguineus, and an ultrastructural comparison of the promastigote[PhD dissertation]. Oklahoma State University, Stillwater; 1984.

Dantas-Torres F. The brown dog tick, Rhipicephalus sanguineus (Latreille, 1806) (Acari: Ixodidae): from taxonomy to control. Vet Parasitol. 2008;152(3-4):173-85.

Akhavan AA, Yaghoobi-Ershadi MR, Khamesipour A et al. Dynamics of Leishmania infection rates in Rhombomys opimus (Rodentia: Gerbillinae) population of an endemic focus of zoonotic cutaneous leishmaniasis in Iran. Bull Soc Pathol Exot. 2010;103(2):84-9.

Malmasi A, Janitabar S, Mohebali M et al. Seroepidemiologic Survey of Canine Visceral Leishmaniasis in Tehran and Alborz Provinces of Iran. J Arthropod Borne Dis. 2014:8(2):132-8.

Harith AE, Kolk AH, Kager PA et al. A simple and economical direct agglutination test for serodiagnosis and sero-epidemiological studies of visceral leishmaniasis. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg. 1986;80(4):583-36.

Janbakhsh B. A research review about ticks responsible for relapsing fever in Iran. Journal of Faculty of Health and Institute of Public Health and Research. 1957; 484:223-30.

Walker AR. Ticks of domestic animals in Africa: a guide to identification of species. Bioscience reports Edinburgh;2003.

Patton TG, Dietrich G, Brandt K et al. Saliva, salivary gland, and hemolymph collection from Ixodes scapularis ticks. J Vis Exp. 2012; (60). pii: 3894.

Schönian G, Nasereddin A, Dinse N et al. PCR diagnosis and characterization of Leishmania in local and imported clinical samples. Diagn Microbiol Infect Dis. 2003; 47(1):349-58.

Rassi Y, Azizi K, Motazedian M et al. The seminested PCR based detection of Leishmania infantum infection in asymptomatic dogs in a new endemic focus of visceral leishmaniasis in Iran. J Arthropod-Borne Dis. 2007; 1(1):38-42.

Akhavan AA, Mirhendi H, Khamesipour A et al. Leishmania species: detection and identification by nested PCR assay from skin samples of rodent reservoirs. Exp Parasitol. 2010;126(4):552-6.

Paz GF, Ribeiro MF, Michalsky EM et al. Evaluation of the vectorial capacity of Rhipicephalus sanguineus (Acari: Ixodidae) in the transmission of canine visceral leishmaniasis. Parasitol Res. 2010;106(2):523-8.

Khazeni A. Identification and study of the infectivity of ticks to visceral leishmaniasis, Ehrlichiosis and Crimean- congo Hemorragic fever agents, by molecular methods on dogs in Meshkinshahr, in Department of Medical Entomology and Vector Control [PhD dissertation]. Tehran university of Medical Sciences;2013.

Dantas-Torres F, Martins TF, de Paiva-Cavalcanti M et al. Transovarial passage of Leishmania infantum kDNA in artificially infected Rhipicephalus sanguineus. Exp Parasitol. 2010;125(2):184-5.

Wenyon CM. The transmission of Leishmania infections: A review. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg. 1932; 25(5):319-48.

Tamook A, Moghaddam Yeganeh G, Aminisani N et al. Visceral leishmaniasis hospitalization in Ardebil province, Northwest of Iran. Int J Trop Med. 2006; 1(4):190-3.

IssueVol 12 No 4 (2017) QRcode
SectionOriginal Article(s)
Rhipicephalus sanguineus Leishmania infantum Canine visceral leishmaniosis

Rights and permissions
Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
How to Cite
RAKHSHANPOUR A, MALMASI A, MOHEBALI M, NABIAN S, MIRHENDI H, ZAREI Z, DALIMI A, MOHAMMADIHA A, AKHOUNDI B, AZARM A. Transmission of Leishmania infantum by Rhipicephalus sanguineus (Acari: Ixodidae) in Dogs. Iran J Parasitol. 2017;12(4):482-489.