Prevalence of sand flies and Leishmania donovani infection in a natural population of female Phlebotomus argentipes in Bihar State, India

Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis. 2012 Jun;12(6):467-72. doi: 10.1089/vbz.2011.0808. Epub 2012 Jan 4.


Leishmaniasis is a vector-borne disease, and in the Indian subcontinent the female Phlebotomus argentipes is the vector for Leishmania donovani. However, data on the extent of sand fly infection rates in natural settings using molecular methods have not been extensively reported in India. In this study a PCR technique was applied targeting the 18S rRNA encoding region to determine the prevalence of Leishmania infection in female P. argentipes captured in the field. For this study, sand flies were collected from 897 houses selected from 50 villages endemic for visceral leishmaniasis (VL) in Muzaffarpur district, Bihar state, using CDC miniature light traps and mouth aspirators. A total of 14,585 sand flies were collected of which 449 were female P. argentipes divided into 132 pools. Molecular detection using PCR targeting the 18S rRNA gene was carried out for the identification of P. argentipes and Leishmania. The overall prevalence of infection was 4.90-17.37% for L. donovani in female P. argentipes in endemic regions of Bihar state. In this study no correlation was found between the presence of infected sand flies and the occurrence of clinical VL. This study provides the first report evaluating the prevalence of Leishmania infection in sand flies in a region endemic for VL in India. Sergentomyia species are the most common species of sand fly. Knowledge of the infection rate in female P. argentipes may help in predicting severity of disease and in vector elimination programs.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA, Protozoan / genetics
  • DNA, Protozoan / isolation & purification
  • Female
  • India
  • Leishmania donovani / genetics
  • Leishmania donovani / isolation & purification*
  • Male
  • Phlebotomus / classification*
  • Phlebotomus / parasitology*
  • Population Density
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 18S / genetics


  • DNA, Protozoan
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 18S