A Comparative Field Study of the Relative Importance of Lutzomyia peruensis and Lutzomyia verrucarum as Vectors of Cutaneous Leishmaniasis in the Peruvian Andes

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  • Instituto de Medicina Tropical Alexander von Humboldt, Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, Department of Medical Parasitology, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Lima, Peru

A two-year field study of Andean cutaneous leishmaniasis (uta) in the valley of Purisima, Ancash Department, Peru has provided quantitative epidemiologic and entomologic evidence for the predominant role of Lutzomyia peruensis in the transmission of Leishmania peruviana in this endemic area. The monthly incidence in the valley was greatest in the wet season (from December to May), when Lu. peruensis was particularly endophilic. A significant correlation was detected between intradomiciliary (but not extradomiciliary) Lu. peruensis abundance and the monthly incidence of uta in the valley following a one-month time lag. In contrast, no significant correlation was detected between any measure of Lu. verrucarum abundance and the incidence of uta. Lutzomyia peruensis and Lu. verrucarum comprise more than 98% of all the sand fly captures made in this valley. The increase in incidence of uta with altitude, which reached a peak rate between 2,250 and 2,750 meters above sea level, was associated with an increase in the relative abundance of Lu. peruensis as compared with Lu. verrucarum. Seasonal and altitudinal variation was also detected in the peak time of activity for both sand fly species, a phenomenon that could significantly influence the transmission rate: later host-seeking sand flies being more likely to find sleeping, nondefensive, human hosts.

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