Visceral leishmaniasis (VL) is an important parasitic disease which is endemic in different parts of Iran; and domestic and wild canines are principal reservoir hosts of the disease. The objective of this study was to review the spatial distribution of canine VL (CVL) caused by Leishmania infantum in domestic and wild canines in different geographical areas of Iran. An extensive literature search was conducted in different international and national databases, including Cochrane, MEDLINE/PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science and Iran Medex to find articles with the words "visceral leishmaniasis in Iran" in their titles and "canine visceral leishmaniasis in Iran" or "feline visceral leishmaniasis in Iran" or "accidental reservoir hosts of visceral leishmaniasis in Iran" in their subtitles, irrespective of the type and duration of study. Screening of the irrelevant articles from total 36,342, yielded 61 eligible articles. More than 93% of the studies were carried out on domestic dogs (Canis familiaris, n = 57) and the remaining were on other carnivores such as wild canines including foxes (Vulpes vulpes, n = 4), jackals (C. aureus, n = 6) and wolves (C. lupus, n = 6); while studies on domestic cats (Felis catus, n = 3) as well as desert rodents (n = 2) were rare. The average rate of L. infantum infections reported among domestic dogs using direct agglutination test (DAT) in Iran was 12.5%. The highest prevalence rate (14%) was reported from the northwest regions of the country where VL is endemic. The review indicates that CVL is endemic in various parts of Iran and domestic dogs are the main and potential reservoir hosts of the disease. Other carnivores, such as domestic cats and some species of desert rodents (Cricetulus migratorius, Mesocricetus auratus and Meriones persicus) seem to be playing a role in the maintenance of transmission cycle of L. infantum in the endemic areas of the disease.
Keywords: Domestic canines; Iran; reservoirs; visceral leishmaniasis.