Native rodent species are unlikely sources of infection for Leishmania (Viannia) braziliensis along the Transoceanic Highway in Madre de Dios, Peru

Lisa A. Shender, Maxy De Los Santos, Joel M. Montgomery, Patricia A. Conrad, Bruno M. Ghersi, Hugo Razuri, Andres G. Lescano, Jonna A K Mazet

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3 Scopus citations


An estimated 2.3 million disability-adjusted life years are lost globally from leishmaniasis. In Peru's Amazon region, the department of Madre de Dios (MDD) rises above the rest of the country in terms of the annual incidence rates of human leishmaniasis. Leishmania (Viannia) braziliensis is the species most frequently responsible for the form of disease that results in tissue destruction of the nose and mouth. However, essentially nothing is known regarding the reservoirs of this vector-borne, zoonotic parasite in MDD. Wild rodents have been suspected, or proven, to be reservoirs of several Leishmania spp. in various ecosystems and countries. Additionally, people who live or work in forested terrain, especially those who are not regionally local and whose immune systems are thus naïve to the parasite, are at most risk for contracting L. (V.) braziliensis. Hence, the objective of this study was to collect tissues from wild rodents captured at several study sites along the Amazonian segment of the newly constructed Transoceanic Highway and to use molecular laboratory techniques to analyze samples for the presence of Leishmania parasites. Liver tissues were tested via polymerase chain reaction from a total of 217 rodents; bone marrow and skin biopsies (ear and tail) were also tested from a subset of these same animals. The most numerous rodent species captured and tested were Oligoryzomys microtis (40.7%), Hylaeamys perenensis (15.7%), and Proechimys spp. (12%). All samples were negative for Leishmania, implying that although incidental infections may occur, these abundant rodent species are unlikely to serve as primary reservoirs of L. (V.) braziliensis along the Transoceanic Highway in MDD. Therefore, although these rodent species may persist and even thrive in moderately altered landscapes, we did not find any evidence to suggest they pose a risk for L. (V.) braziliensis transmission to human inhabitants in this highly prevalent region.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere103358
JournalPLoS One
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 25 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)


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