Though dogs have been historically considered the main reservoir of Leishmania infantum, the role of wildlife in its epidemiology is attracting increasing attention. Rodents, wild carnivores and, recently, hares (Lepus spp.) have been proposed as sylvatic reservoirs for this parasite. Bats have never been tested for L. infantum infection in Europe. Nevertheless, bats have a widespread distribution, they live in abundant colonies, and some species inhabit caves, where constant temperatures and humidity provide ideal habitat for the sand fly vector. We tested blood samples from 35 Schreibers' bats (Miniopterus schreibersii), abundant cave bats in NE Spain, which is an enzootic area of leishmaniasis. A PCR-amplifying fragment of the high copy of Leishmania donovani group kDNA minicircles was used. None of the analyzed samples were positive (maximum possible prevalence=8.20 %). Though the susceptibility of this bat to parasitization by L. infantum cannot be ruled out, our survey indicates that this species may not be a relevant sylvatic reservoir of L. infantum in the Mediterranean area. Nevertheless, even if the prevalence of infection in bats is low, such an abundant taxonomic group would still provide a significant maintenance population for the parasite. © 2014 Springer-Verlag.
- Canine leishmaniasis
- Leishmania infantum
- Zoonotic visceral leishmaniasis