Antibodies and Molecular Detection of Leishmania (Leishmania) infantum in Samples of Free-Ranging Marmosets (Primates: Callitrichidae: Callithrix spp.) in an Area of Canine Visceral Leishmaniasis in Southeastern Brazil
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Leishmaniasis is a vector-borne parasitic protozoan infection that affects mammals and involves a complex epidemiology. Although dogs are considered the main reservoir in zoonotic visceral leishmaniasis (VL), the possible presence of other mammalian species acting as reservoirs has been associated as a possible cause of lack of success in the control of human VL in many endemic areas. The knowledge about natural infections of some species is still scarce, such as nonhuman primates (NHP), especially from the genus Callithrix (marmosets). We investigated the infection by Leishmania (Leishmania) infantum, the agent of VL in the Americas, in 26 marmosets captured monthly, from April 2014 to March 2015, in an environmentally protected area (EPA) in Southeastern Brazil. The EPA has undergone significant environmental changes and has a transmission focus of canine VL since 2009. Serology was performed through the direct agglutination test, which detected low antibody titers in seven marmosets (7/26; 26.9%, 95% confidence interval 9.9-44.0), being five Callithrix penicillata (black-tufted-ear marmoset) and two Callithrix jacchus (white-tufted-ear marmoset). The presence of the DNA of Leishmania was investigated in blood and skin samples by PCR and genetic sequencing. This is the first report of the detection of L. (L.) infantum in the skin of a marmoset, which was verified in a sample from one C. penicillata. The results demonstrate the natural infection of marmosets by L. (L.) infantum and may suggest the participation of these animals as hosts in the parasite's transmission cycle in the EPA. However, more comprehensive studies are needed to elucidate their role on the VL epidemiology in this area and also in different endemic areas, especially because these NHP are increasingly in contact with humans and domestic animals, particularly due to environmental changes.