Canine visceral leishmaniasis (VL), caused by Leishmania infantum (Leishmania chagasi in the New World), is a zoonotic, endemic disease in Western Europe and Latin America. The potential spreading to new regions was suggested by the appearance of canine VL among foxhounds in the US. Although the sand fly vectors in the major foci of transmission have been described, no information exists on other sand flies that could propagate the infection outside endemic areas. We evaluated the capacity of Lutzomyia shannoni (Dyar) and Lutomyia youngi (Feliciangeli & Murillo), which are widely distributed in the New World, to acquire L chagasi (Cunha and Chagas) infections. A high proportion of L youngi were infected after feeding on an oligo-symptomatic dog (51 per cent) or a polysymptomatic individual (95 per cent), but the intensity of infection was low (< 200 promastigotes/fly). L shannoni became infected only by feeding on the polysymptomatic dog, and the infection rate was lower (9 per cent) than in Lutzomyia longipalpis (36 per cent), and Lutzomyia evansi (Nuňez-Tovar) (Lutz and Neiva) (38 per cent), but the intensity of infection (200 to >500 promastigotes/fly) was comparable (L longipalpis) or higher (L evansi) than in the New World vectors. It is hypothesised that the presence of infected dogs in areas where L shannoni or L youngi occur could initiate new endemic cycles of VL in both South and North America.
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