Seroprevalence of Leishmania infection and molecular detection of Leishmania tropica and Leishmania infantum in stray cats of İzmir, Turkey.Exp Parasitol. 2016 Aug; 167:109-14.EP
Leishmaniasis caused by more than 20 species of genus Leishmania is transmitted by the bite of infected phlebotomine sand flies. The studies on Leishmania infection in cats is very few in Turkey and therefore we aimed to screen stray cats living in city of İzmir located in western Turkey using nested PCR targeting kinetoplast DNA and serological techniques (ELISA and IFA). Leishmania DNA positive samples were also studied by ITS1 real time PCR. Whole blood and serum samples were obtained from stray cats (n: 1101) living in different counties of İzmir. In serological assays, a serum sample was considered positive in 1:40 dilution in IFA and for ELISA a serum sample was accepted positive when the absorbance value (AV) exceeded the mean AV + Standard Deviation (SD) of the negative control serum samples. According to the results, the seropositivity rates were 10.8% (119/1101) and 15.2% (167/1101) by in house ELISA and IFA, respectively. Among serology coherent samples, the seropositivity rate was 11.1% (116/1047) as detected by both assays after discordant samples (n: 54) were discarded. Of the 1101 stray cats, six (0.54%) were positive by nested PCR while only one of these six samples was positive by ITS1 real time PCR. During PCR, three controls designated as Leishmania infantum, Leishmania tropica, and Leishmania major were used for species identification. According to nested PCR results, L. tropica was identified in two cats (no.76 and 95). In another cat (no. 269), there were two bands in which one of them was well-matched with L. infantum and the other band had ∼850 bp size which does not match with any controls. Remaining three cats (no. 86, 514, and 622) also had the ∼850 bp atypical band size. ITS1 real time PCR detected L. tropica in only one cat (no. 622) which showed an atypical band size in nested PCR. These results indicated that three cats with only one atypical band (no. 86, 514, and 622) and the cat with mixed infection (no. 269) were infected with L. tropica. Altogether, L. tropica was detected in all six DNA positive cats and L. infantum was detected in one cat with mixed infection. In conclusion, although the reservoir role of cats in nature is still unclear the high seroprevalence rate against Leishmania parasites and detecting parasite DNA in stray cats in İzmir indicates that the stray cats are frequently bitten by infected sand flies. Further research activities are required to reveal the frequency of leishmaniasis in cats in different regions of Turkey where Leishmania species are endemic.