The Leishmania are single-celled parasites, which cause diseases of humans and dogs and are transmitted by sand flies. In South America, the subgenus Viannia causes cutaneous (CL) or severe mucocutaneous leishmaniasis (MCL). In Europe and South America, L. (L.) infantum causes fatal visceral leishmaniasis (VL). The overall aim of this project is to apply molecular methods to improve understanding of the epidemiology of the subgenus Viannia and L. infantum in South America. The technical objectives are, firstly, to develop a full range of microsatellite and MultiLocus Sequence Typing (MLST) markers for the Leishmania (V) braziliensis complex and for L. (V) guyanensis and secondly, to establish in South America microsatellite and MLST analysis for L. (L) infantum, with methods proven by a European network.

The practical objectives are to apply these methods in South America for:

  1. elucidating parasite-vector-host relationships
  2. assessing the epidemiological impact of L. infantum/HIV co-infection (Brazil)
  3. assessing the epidemiological importance of recombinant Leishmania genotypes and
  4. assessing the spread of resistance against first line treatment.

In addition, we will compare genotypes of:

  • Leishmania isolated from diverse clinical cases of leishmaniasis and;
  • Drug susceptible and drug-resistant strains.

This understanding is essential for more effective control and surveillance.

This project is financed by European Community