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Petrela R.,University of Tirana | Kuneshka L.,University of Tirana | Foto E.,Institute of Public Health | Zavalani F.,Institute of Public Health | Gradoni L.,Unit of Vector Borne Diseases and International Health
PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases | Year: 2010

Background: Little information is available about infantile visceral leishmaniasis (VL) in Albania as regards incidence, diagnosis and management of the disease. Methodology/Principal Findings: Demographic data, clinical and laboratory features and therapeutic findings were considered in children admitted to University Hospital of Tirana from 1995 to 2009, and diagnosed as having VL. The diagnosis was based on bone-marrow microscopy/culture in 77.5% of patients, serology in 16.1%, and ex juvantibus in 6.4%. A total of 1,210 children were considered, of whom 74% came from urbanized areas. All patients were in the age range 0-14 years, with a median of 4 years. Hepatosplenomegaly was recorded in 100%, fever in 95.4% and moderate to severe anemia in 88% of cases. Concomitant conditions were frequent: 84% had bronchopneumonia; diarrhea was present in 27%, with acute manifestations in 5%; 3% had salmonellosis. First-line therapy was meglumine antimoniate for all patients, given at the standard Sb v dosage of 20 mg/kg/day for 21 to 28 days. Two children died under treatment, one of sepsis, the other of acute renal impairment. There were no cases of primary unresponsiveness to treatment, and only 8 (0.67%) relapsed within 6-12 months after therapy. These patients have been re-treated with liposomal amphotericin B, with successful cure. Conclusions: Visceral leishmaniasis in pediatric age is relatively frequent in Albania; therefore an improvement is warranted of a disease-specific surveillance system in this country, especially as regards diagnosis. Despite recent reports on decreased responses to antimonial drugs of patients with Mediterranean VL, meglumine antimoniate treatment appears to be still highly effective in Albania. © 2010 Petrela et al.

Montalvo A.M.,Institute Medicina Tropical Pedro Kouri | Fraga J.,Institute Medicina Tropical Pedro Kouri | El Safi S.,University of Khartoum | Gramiccia M.,Unit of Vector Borne Diseases and International Health | And 4 more authors.
Diagnostic Microbiology and Infectious Disease | Year: 2014

In the diagnosis of leishmaniasis, identification of the causative Leishmania species is relevant for treatment, prognosis, and epidemiology. Three new hsp70-based PCR variants were developed and recently validated on clinical samples from Peru, without the need for culturing. We evaluated their performance on 133 clinical samples (bone marrow, blood, buffy coat, lymph node aspirates, lesion biopsies) from 42 cutaneous and 56 visceral leishmaniasis patients and 35 negative cases, all from Old World countries (Italy, Sudan, Israel, and Tunisia). The 3 new PCRs were significantly more sensitive than those previously described for hsp70, and their respective restriction fragment analyses were more efficient for species identification. In 79% of the parasitologically confirmed positive samples, the species could be identified directly from sample DNA. This evaluation demonstrated that these new tools are globally applicable in different geographical, clinical, and sampling contexts, and they could become the reference method for identification of Leishmania species in clinical specimens. © 2014 Elsevier Inc.

Gramiccia M.,Unit of Vector Borne Diseases and International Health
Euro surveillance : bulletin Européen sur les maladies transmissibles = European communicable disease bulletin | Year: 2013

Starting from 1989 Italy experienced an increase of visceral leishmaniasis (VL) cases over a baseline of 10 to 30 cases reported annually. The number of cases peaked in 2000 and 2004 with more than 200 cases/year, and subsequently declined to reach on average one third of the 2000 peak value in the period after 2010. A retrospective analysis from 1982 to 2012 showed that the multi-annual epidemic consisted of major components including (i) an outbreak involving infants and immunocompetent adults in parts of the Campania region (southern peninsular Italy) and that appears to have declined naturally, (ii) a second outbreak affecting human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected individuals throughout the country, that declined owing to the use of highly active antiretroviral therapies (HAART), (iii) a generalised increase of VL cases in immunocompetent individuals and patients affected by associated conditions other than HIV from endemic regions of peninsular and insular Italy (other than Campania), which was due to a geographical spreading of VL foci, with no major case-clusters or outbreak features. A minor component consisted in the appearance of a few autochthonous cases in formerly non-endemic areas, starting from the early 1990s. Epidemic determinants and reasons for VL decline in the Campania region remain largely unexplained, despite the information available on canine reservoir and phlebotomine vectors in Italy.

Antoniou M.,University of Crete | Gramiccia M.,Unit of Vector Borne Diseases and International Health | Molina R.,Institute Salud Carlos III | Dvorak V.,Charles University | Volf P.,Charles University
Eurosurveillance | Year: 2013

An updated view of the establishment and spread of the leishmaniases in Europe is presented, mostly with respect to newly emerging and re-emerging foci and the incrimination of neglected as well as new reservoir hosts. At the same time, a concept of specific versus permissive vectors reassesses the potential role of various sandfly species in Leishmania transmission and considers the risk of introduction of exotic Leishmania species in Europe. The leishmaniases are dynamic diseases and the circumstances of transmission are continually changing in relation to environmental, demographic and human behavioural factors. Changes in the habitat of the natural hosts and vectors, immunosuppressive conditions (like infection with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or organ transplantation-associated therapies in humans) and the consequences of war, all contribute to the transformation of the epidemiology of leishmaniasis. Such changes should be considered when studying the spread of the disease throughout Europe for targeted control measures to safeguard public health.

Gradoni L.,Unit of Vector Borne Diseases and International Health
Veterinary Parasitology | Year: 2015

Dogs are the main reservoir host for zoonotic visceral leishmaniasis, a sand fly-borne disease caused by Leishmania infantum. In endemic areas, "susceptible" dogs suffer from a severe disease characterized by chronic polymorphic viscerocutaneous signs that manifest several months from the exposure, whereas "resistant" dogs can remain subclinically infected for years or lifelong. The protective immune response to Leishmania is cell-mediated; for visceralizing Leishmania species a mixed T helper (Th)1/Th2 response with a dominant Th1 profile is required for protection. The activation of the adaptive immune system in naturally resistant dogs is revealed by parasite-specific lymphoproliferation, delayed-type hypersensitivity, the production of interferon-γ and tumour necrosis factor-α cytokines, and enhanced macrophage leishmanicidal activity via nitric oxide. Hence, an effective canine Leishmania vaccine should induce strong and long-lasting Th1-dominated immunity to control both infection progression and the parasite transmissibility via the vector. Preclinical research in rodent models has evaluated the efficacy of several categories of Leishmania antigens including killed parasites, cell purified fractions, parasite protein components or subunits, single or multiple chimeric recombinant proteins, plasmid DNA and viral particles encoding parasite virulence factors. Promising antigen(s)/adjuvant combinations from each of the above categories have also been tested in dogs; they mostly resulted in limited or no protection in Phase I-II studies (designed to test vaccine safety, immunogenicity and laboratory-induced protection) in which vaccinated dogs were challenged by the artificial intravenous injection of high-load L. infantum promastigotes. The recombinant A2 antigen plus saponin conferred about 40% protection against infection by this challenge system and has been registered in Brazil as a canine vaccine (LeishTec®). An increasing number of efficacy studies have privileged the use of natural challenge consisting in the long-term exposure of vaccinated dogs in endemic settings (Phase III). A 2-year field model including regular assessments by a set of standard diagnostic markers useful for an accurate infection staging has been developed. Again, most of the vaccines tested by this system, which included several antigen categories and adjuvants, failed to protect against infection and disease. Only two vaccines, consisting of parasite purified fractions with saponin derivative adjuvants, showed to confer significant protection against disease and death under natural conditions, and have been registered as canine vaccines: FML-QuilA (Leishmune®) in Brazil, and LiESP/QA-21 (CaniLeish®) in Europe. © 2015 Elsevier B.V.

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