Centro de Pesquisas Goncalo Moniz, Fundacao Oswaldo Cruz, Instituto de Ciencias de Saude, Universidade Federal da Bahia, Departmento de Immunologia, Instituto Oswaldo Cruz, Fundacao Oswaldo Cruz, Salvador, Brazil
Jequie, a community of about 144.500 inhabitants located in the State of Bahia, Brazil, is endemic for both visceral and cutaneous leishmaniases. In the present epidemiologic study, the urban and inhabited periurban areas of the town were divided into 140 clusters of 0.25 km2 each. The seroprevalence of canine Leishmania antibodies was investigated using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay as a screening test since its sensitivity was significantly higher than that of an indirect immunofluorescence assay. A total of 1,681 dogs was surveyed in 34 randomly sampled clusters. The overall prevalence of Leishmania antibodies in the dog population was 23.5%, with intracluster prevalences ranging from 0% to 67%. There was no correlation of these seroprevalences with the intracluster densities of canine populations, or with the distances from individual clusters to the town center. Moreover, the Leishmania transmission did not seem to follow any clear-cut spatial pattern, since large disparities in the seroprevalences of contiguous clusters were found. Curiously, human cases of visceral leishmaniasis have never been observed in some clusters with a relatively high prevalence of canine seroprevalences. Eight parasite isolates from seropositive dogs were found to belong to the same serodeme and zymodeme as Leishmania (L.) chagasi. The implications of these findings with respect to the epidemiology and control of American visceral leishmaniasis are discussed.