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Research Project: Biological Control of Invasive Arthropod Pests from the Eastern Hemisphere

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Title: Sand fly (Diptera: Psychodidae: Phlebotominae) population dynamics and natural Leishmania infections in Attica Region, Greece

item GIANTSIS, IOANNIS - European Biological Control Laboratory (EBCL)
item BELERI, STAVROULA - University Of West Attica
item BALATSOS, GEORGIOS - Benaki Phytopathological Institute
item KARRAS, VASILEIOS - Benaki Phytopathological Institute
item PATSOULA, ELENI - University Of West Attica
item PAPCHRISTOS, DIMITRIOS - Benaki Phytopathological Institute
item MICHAELAKIS, ANTONIOS - Benaki Phytopathological Institute
item CHASKOPOULOU, ALEXANDRA - European Biological Control Laboratory (EBCL)

Submitted to: Journal of Medical Entomology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/1/2020
Publication Date: 8/20/2020
Citation: Giantsis, I.A., Beleri, S., Balatsos, G., Karras, V., Patsoula, E., Papchristos, D., Michaelakis, A., Chaskopoulou, A. 2020. Sand fly (Diptera: Psychodidae: Phlebotominae) population dynamics and natural Leishmania infections in Attica Region, Greece. Journal of Medical Entomology. XX(X), 1-6.

Interpretive Summary: Leishmaniasis is considered one of the most important vector-borne diseases, responsible for approximately 26000 to 65000 deaths per year, with an estimate of 700000 to one million new annual cases (WHO 2019). Efficient and consistent epidemiological surveillance, including vector activity data, is a prerequisite for designing and implementing effective disease prevention and control strategies. While notification of leishmaniasis cases is mandatory in many countries in Europe and across the world with systematic reporting of annual human disease surveillance data, vector surveillance has only been sporadically and inconsistently implemented with very limited studies reporting Leishmania infections in natural sand fly populations. Here we report seasonality data of sand flies and natural Leishmania infection rates from the most densely populated area of Greece. By using a trap commonly used for mosquitoes, we were able to sample and successfully identify populations of 5 different sand fly species, record their seasonality profiles, while detecting and identifying two different sp. of Leishmania DNA in natural sand fly populations. This information will be useful in guiding public health officials across the world in designing and implementing similar surveillance programs.

Technical Abstract: A two-year sand fly seasonality study was performed in Attica Region, Greece, from June 2017 till November 2018, aiming also to detect the presence of Leishmania infection in the collected sand flies. In total 701 sand flies were collected from urban areas within the Attica Region using BG-Sentinel traps, set weekly in eight fixed sites. Five species were identified morphologically and molecularly, namely Phlebotomus tobbi, which was the most prevalent one, followed by P. neglectus, P. papatasi, P. simici and Sergentomyia minuta. During both survey years sand fly populations peaked in late August –early September. Fifty-nine monospecific pools were examined for Leishmania detection by analyzing the ITS1 nuclear region using both RFLPs and sequencing, seven of which were found positive. Leishmania DNA was identified as L. infantum in the six pools (five P. papatasi and one P. tobbi), whereas in one P. papatasi pool Leishmania DNA was identified as L. tropica. This is the first time that L. tropica has been detected in naturally infected sand flies from the Region of Attica as well as in central Greece, while previously it has only been detected in sand flies collected from Central Macedonia (Northern Greece).