Genital lesions associated with visceral leishmaniasis and shedding of Leishmania sp. in the semen of naturally infected dogs.Vet Pathol 2005; 42(5):650-8VP
Although visceral leishmaniasis is primarily transmitted by a biological invertebrate vector, transmission in the absence of the vector has been reported, including venereal transmission in humans. Considering the possibility of venereal transmission, we studied genital lesions in dogs naturally infected with visceral leishmaniasis and shedding of Leishmania sp. in the semen. Approximately 200 dogs were serologically tested for anti-Leishmania antibodies and divided into three groups: 1) serologically negative dogs (n = 20), 2) asymptomatic serologically positive dogs (n = 20), and 3) symptomatic serologically positive dogs (n = 20). Samples from both testes, all segments of both epididymes, prostate gland, glans penis, and prepuce were histologically evaluated and processed for immunodetection of Leishmania sp. Semen samples were obtained from 22 symptomatic serologically positive dogs and processed for detecting Leishmania DNA by polymerase chain reaction. A significantly higher frequency of inflammation was observed in the epididymes, glans penis, and prepuce of dogs with visceral leishmaniasis, which was associated with a high frequency of immunohistochemically positive tissues (up to 95% of tissues from symptomatic dogs were positive by immunohistochemistry). Leishmania DNA was detected in eight of 22 semen samples from symptomatic dogs. Together these findings indicate that genital lesions and shedding of Leishmania sp. (donovani complex) in the semen are associated with visceral leishmaniasis. Additional studies should address the possibility of venereal transmission of the disease in the dog.