Volume 59, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645


To assess the effect of removing leishmania-infected dogs on the incidence of visceral leishmaniasis, a controlled intervention study was performed in northeast Brazil. The attempted elimination of seropositive dogs resulted in an initial significant decrease in the annual incidence of seroconversion among dogs from 36% to 6% over the first two years. In the following two years, the incidence increased to 11% and 14%, respectively. In a control area in which dogs were surveyed but seropositive dogs were not removed, the cumulative incidence did not vary significantly from year to year, ranging from 16% to 27%. In the intervention area, the prevalence of dog seropositivity decreased from 36% before the intervention to 10% and remained stable. These findings suggest that attempting to remove seropositive dogs is insufficient as a measure for eradicating visceral leishmaniasis in dogs. However, the force of transmission of infection among dogs can be reduced by such programs. Also, when the number of human cases before and after the start of the intervention was calculated, a significant decrease in incidence of disease in the intervention area was observed among children less than 15 years of age (P < 0.01). The results of this intervention study suggest that the elimination of the majority of seropositive dogs may affect the cumulative incidence of seroconversion in dogs temporarily and may also diminish the incidence of human cases of visceral leishmaniasis.


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