The natural infection of sand flies by Leishmania was investigated in Andean areas located between the Central and Eastern Cordilleras of northern Peru where cutaneous leishmaniasis caused by Leishmania (Viannia) peruviana is endemic. Sand flies were captured at five locations along the Utcubamba River in the Department of Amazonas, and morphologically identified under a microscope. Among 422 female sand flies dissected, the most dominant species was Pintomyia verrucarum (320 flies), followed by Pi. maranonensis (83 flies), Pi. robusta (13 flies), and Lutzomyia castanea (6 flies). Genetic analysis of sand flies from these areas together with those from other areas revealed that individuals of Pi. verrucarum were closely related regardless of morphological variation of their spermathecae. On the other hand, individuals of Pi. maranonensis collected in the study area were distant from those of other areas with genetic distances over the intraspecific level but mostly below the interspecific level, suggesting the unique characteristics of sand flies in this area. The natural infection of sand flies by flagellate parasites was detected mainly in the hindgut of each one of Pi. verrucarum and Pi. maranonensis. Both parasite species were identified as L. (V.) peruviana based on cytochrome b and mannose phosphate isomerase gene analyses. In addition, parasite species obtained from the lesion of a patient with cutaneous leishmaniasis in the study area in this period was identified as L. (V.) peruviana. These results strongly suggest that Pi. verrucarum and Pi. maranonensis are responsible for the transmission of L. (V.) peruviana in these areas. This is the first report of the natural infection of Pi. maranonensis by L. (V.) peruviana.
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© 2021 Kato et al.