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Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz
Fundação Oswaldo Cruz, Fiocruz
ISSN: 1678-8060
EISSN: 1678-8060
Vol. 94, No. 6, 1999, pp. 729-734
Bioline Code: oc99221
Full paper language: English
Document type: Research Article
Document available free of charge

Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz, Vol. 94, No. 6, 1999, pp. 729-734

 en The Status of the Lutzomyia longipalpis Species Complex and Possible Implications for Leishmania Transmission
Uribe, Sandra


The sand fly Lutzomyia longipalpis sensu latu has been identified as the principal vector of American visceral leishmaniasis, a potentially fatal disease that primarily affects children in several countries of South and Central America. Over the past several years increases have occurred both in the number of reported cases and the population at risk: approximately 1.6 million people reside in highly endemic areas with 16,000 cases reported annually. Several studies have attempted to relate the epidemiology of this disease to variability in Lu. longipalpis that is now recognized to be a complex of at least three sibling species. Morphological variation in this species was first noted by Mangabeira (1969). Since then physiological and biochemical differences have been reported by several investigators. Recent reports in Costa Rica of the presence of Lu. longipalpis in a focus of cutaneous leishmaniasis caused by Leishmania chagasi may be an additional indication of variability in this species. While existing evidence indicates that the morphospecies Lu. longipalpis may represent a complex of sibling species, genetic, epidemiological and ecological distinctions have not been fully resolved. Thus, delimitation of systematic boundaries within the complex and corresponding to geographic distributions and roles in transmission remain unresolved. The purpose of this review is to summarize from the literature observations of polymorphism in this morphospecies and consider what significance this reported variability may have to the epidemiology of visceral leishmaniasis.

leishmaniasis - Lutzomyia longipalpis - species complex

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