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Year : 2019  |  Volume : 56  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 244-251

Human visceral leishmaniasis in northern Greece: Seroepidemiology and risk factors in endemic region

1 Department of Internal Medicine, University Hospital of Alexandroupolis, Democritus University of Thrace, Komotini, Greece
2 Laboratory of Hygiene and Environmental Protection, Medical School of Alexandroupolis, Democritus University of Thrace, Komotini, Greece
3 Department of Microbiology, Medical School of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece

Correspondence Address:
Ms Dionysia Theocharidou
Department of Internal Medicine, University Hospital of Alexandroupolis, Democritus University of Thrace, Komotini
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0972-9062.289399

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Background & objectives: Visceral leishmaniasis is endemic in Greece, with sporadic cases reported annually both in the mainland and in coastal areas. Seroepidemiological studies across Greece report seropositivity rates from 0.5 to 15%, in different parts of the country. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the Leishmania seropositivity rate of the general population of Drama prefecture, a rich in water supply region, in northern Greece. Methods: Serum samples collected from 347 healthy individuals were tested for IgG Leishmania infantum antibodies. Furthermore, 132 domestic dogs, clinically suspected to suffer from canine leishmaniasis, from all across the prefecture, were also evaluated. Results: Among 347 healthy individuals tested, 24 (6.9%) were positive for IgG L. infantum antibodies. Age, gender, occupational and leisure time activities didn’t show significant relation to IgG seropositivity, whereas low altitude of place of residency and residency at places with surface water were significantly related to IgG seropositivity. All seropositive individuals follow a geographic pattern, gathering themselves in Drama basin (rich in surface and underground water bodies), whereas canine leishmaniasis cases show a wide distribution across the prefecture. Interpretation & conclusion: Evaluation of both human seroprevalence and high incidence of canine leishmaniasis, as well as favorable landscape and climatic conditions of the study area, indicates that high level of clinical awareness need to be employed by physicians, as human and canine visceral leishmaniasis constitutes a serious public health concern.

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