Are rodents a potential reservoir for Leishmania infantum in Italy?

C. Di Bella, F. Vitale, G. Russo, A. Greco, C. Milazzo, G. Aloise, M. Cagnin


Surveys carried out in Southern Italy (Calabria and Sicily) aiming to analyse zoonoses, which occur in wild rodent populations, revealed the presence of Leishmania sp. antibodies in murine sera. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis has revealed L. infantum. Capture-Marking-Recapture (CMR) and the Removal Method using “Havahart” livetraps, have been performed to estimate wild rodent population in an area of about one hectare. Prevalence of infectionshas been calculated considering the real population density of the studied species. Research has revealed that the Rattus rattus population living in Fiumefreddo Bruzio (Cosenza) (estimated population density = 22.2 rats per ha; CMR Method) had 57.5% of serological and 45% of PCR positiveness; while a R. norvegicum population living in a green area (Villa Niscemi) in the city of Palermo (estimated population density = 12.75 rats per ha; Removal Method) had 33.3% of serological positiveness. Results allow us to suppose the presence of new reservoirs in the examined areas. More research is needed in order to confirm this hypothesis.

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Journal of Mountain Ecology
The Journal of Mountain Ecology is an OPEN ACCESS peer reviewed journal published by the Gran Paradiso National Park.