Background: Geographical distribution of zoonotic cutaneous leishmaniasis (ZCL) has continuously been extended in recent years in Iran. The Beiza District is one of the newly-emerged endemic foci of ZCL in southern Iran. The main aim of the present study was to detect the vector(s) of ZCL in this area.
Methods: To detect the fauna and vectors of ZCL in this district, sand flies were caught using sticky papers. Seventy randomly selected female sand flies out of 730 were molecularly investigated for Leishmania infection using species-specific nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay between April and October 2010.
Results: A total of 2543 sand flies were caught. The fauna was identified as 10 species (five Phlebotomus spp. and five Sergentomyia spp.). Phlebotomus papatasi was the most dominant species both indoors and outdoors (37.55% and 16.35 %, respectively). L. major was detected in 5 out of 48 investigated Phlebotomus papatasi (10.41%). Sequence-based characterization was carried out to confirm the PCR findings. The positive samples were shown to have 75-88% similarity with L. major sequences in GenBank.
Conclusion: According to the findings of the present study, similar to the other foci of ZCL in Iran, P. papatasi is the proven and primary vector of CL. This study could be drawn upon for future strategy planning in this newly emerged endemic focus.