Epidemiology of Visceral Leishmaniasis in Georgia

Giorgi Babuadze, Jorge Alvar, Daniel Argaw, Harry P. de Koning, Merab Iosava, Merab Kekelidze, Nikoloz Tsertsvadze, David Tsereteli, Giorgi Chakhunashvili, Tamar Mamatsashvili, Nino Beria, Irine Kalandadze, Mikhail Ejov, Paata Imnadze

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32 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study investigated the transmission and prevalence of Leishmania parasite infection of humans in two foci of Visceral Leishmaniasis (VL) in Georgia, the well known focus in Tbilisi in the East, and in Kutaisi, a new focus in the West of the country. The seroprevalence of canine leishmaniasis was investigated in order to understand the zoonotic transmission. Blood samples of 1575 dogs (stray and pet) and 77 wild canids were tested for VL by Kalazar Detect rK39 rapid diagnostic tests. Three districts were investigated in Tbilisi and one in Kutaisi. The highest proportions of seropositive pet dogs were present in District #2 (28.1%, 82/292) and District #1 (26.9%, 24/89) in Tbilisi, compared to 17.3% (26/150) of pet dogs in Kutaisi. The percentage of seropositive stray dogs was also twice as high in Tbilisi (16.1%, n = 670) than in Kutaisi (8%, n = 50); only 2/58 wild animals screened were seropositive (2. 6%). A total of 873 Phlebotomine sand flies were collected, with 5 different species identified in Tbilisi and 3 species in Kutaisi; 2.3% of the females were positive for Leishmania parasites. The Leishmanin Skin Test (LST) was performed on 981 human subjects in VL foci in urban areas in Tbilisi and Kutaisi. A particularly high prevalence of LST positives was observed in Tbilisi District #1 (22.2%, 37.5% and 19.5% for ages 5-9, 15-24 and 25-59, respectively); lower prevalence was observed in Kutaisi (0%, 3.2% and 5.2%, respectively; P<0.05). This study shows that Tbilisi is an active focus for leishmaniasis and that the infection prevalence is very high in dogs and in humans. Although exposure is as yet not as high in Kutaisi, this is a new VL focus. The overall situation in the country is alarming and new control measures are urgently needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2725
JournalPLoS neglected tropical diseases
Volume8
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases

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