The role of wild and free-roaming domestic carnivores as a reservoir of Leishmania infantum was investigated on the Mediterranean island of Mallorca (Balearic Islands, Spain), an endemic area for this disease. Serum, blood and/or spleen samples from 169 animals [48 dogs from a kennel, 86 wild-caught feral cats, 23 pine martens (Martes martes), 10 common genets (Genetta genetta) and two weasels (Mustela nivalis)] were analysed. Seroprevalence determined by Western blotting was 38% in dogs and 16% in feral cats, while the prevalence of infection determined by PCR was 44% in dogs, 26% in cats, 39% in pine martens and 10% in genets. This is the first report of infection by L. infantum in the pine marten or any other member of the Mustelidae family. Restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) analysis found 33 different patterns in 23 dogs, 14 cats and three martens. Two patterns were shared by dogs and cats, two by different cats, and one by different dogs. Patterns were different to those previously reported in carnivores from peninsular Spain. No external lesions compatible with leishmaniasis were observed in any species other than the dogs. Although the dog is probably the primary reservoir of leishmaniasis in endemic areas, the prevalence and the absence of apparent signs of this disease within the island's abundant feral cat and pine marten populations could make these species potential primary or secondary hosts of L. infantum in Mallorca.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)