Culicoides Latreille (Diptera: Ceratopogonidae) as potential vectors for Leishmania martiniquensis and Trypanosoma sp. in northern Thailand

Sakone Sunantaraporn, Arunrat Thepparatid, Atchara Phumee, Sriwatapron Sor-Suwan, Rungfar Boonserm, Glenn Bellis, Padet Siriyasatien

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Biting midges of genus Culicoides (Diptera: Ceratopogonidae) are the vectors of several pathogenic arboviruses and parasites of humans and animals. Several reports have suggested that biting midges might be a potential vector of Leishmania parasites. In this study, we screened for Leishmania and Trypanosoma DNA in biting midges collected from near the home of a leishmaniasis patient in Lamphun province, northern Thailand by using UV-CDC light traps. The identification of biting midge species was based on morphological characters and confirmed using the Cytochrome C oxidase subunit I (COI) gene. The detection of Leishmania and Trypanosoma DNA was performed by amplifying the internal transcribed spacer 1 (ITS1) and small subunit ribosomal RNA (SSU rRNA) genes, respectively. All the amplified PCR amplicons were cloned and sequenced. The collected 223 biting midges belonged to seven species (Culicoides mahasarakhamense, C. guttifer, C. innoxius, C. sumatrae, C. huffi, C. oxystoma, and C. palpifer). The dominant species found in this study was C. mahasarakhamense (47.53%). Leishmania martiniquensis DNA was detected in three samples of 106 specimens of C. mahasarakhamense tested indicating a field infection rate of 2.83%, which is comparable to reported rates in local phlebotomines. Moreover, we also detected Trypanosoma sp. DNA in one sample of C. huffi. To our knowledge, this is the first molecular detection of L. martiniquensis in C. mahasarakhamense as well as the first detection of avian Trypanosoma in C. huffi. Blood meal analysis of engorged specimens of C. mahasarakhamense, C. guttifer, and C. huffi revealed that all specimens had fed on avian, however, further studies of the host ranges of Culicoides are needed to gain a better insight of potential vectors of emerging leishmaniasis. Clarification of the vectors of these parasites is also important to provide tools to establish effective disease prevention and control programs in Thailand.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0010014
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalPLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


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