Table of Contents
ISRN Parasitology
Volume 2013, Article ID 916376, 6 pages
Research Article

Serological and Molecular Evaluation of Leishmania infantum Infection in Stray Cats in a Nonendemic Area in Northern Italy

1Dipartimento di Scienze Veterinarie per la Salute, la Produzione Animale e la Sicurezza Alimentare, Università degli Studi di Milano, Via G. Celoria 10, 20133 Milano, Italy
2Centro di Referenza Nazionale per le Leishmaniosi, Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale della Sicilia, Via R. Dicillo 4, 90129 Palermo, Italy

Received 8 May 2013; Accepted 5 June 2013

Academic Editors: M. Mahieu, P. Somboon, K. R. Trenholme, J. Venegas Hermosilla, and R. Zufferey

Copyright © 2013 Eva Spada et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Infection by Leishmania species is increasing worldwide. It was hypothesized recently that cats act as a secondary reservoir for Leishmania infection. The aim of the present study was to assess the prevalence of Leishmania infantum antibodies and DNA in blood samples collected in a sample of stray cats in metropolitan area of Milan in northern Italy, which is a nonendemic area for leishmaniasis. An indirect immunofluorescence antibody test for L. infantum showed that 59 of 233 cats (25.3%) were seroreactive, 38 samples (16.3%) had antibody titers of 1 : 40, 15 (6.4%) had antibody titers of 1 : 80, and 6 (2.6%) had antibody titers of 1 : 160. Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) seropositive status was statistically associated with seroreactivity to L. infantum ( ) as shown by univariate and multivariate logistic regression ( ; OR = 7.34). All blood samples that were tested using real-time PCR were negative for parasite DNA. These results were surprising, since no autochthonous human or canine cases of leishmaniasis have ever been reported in this region of northern Italy. It is possible that this high seroreactivity to L. infantum could be due to cross-reaction with antigens from other parasites. Additional studies that include parasite isolation are needed to clarify our findings on feline leishmaniasis in this region.