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Ecological and epidemiological status of species of the Phlebotomus perniciosus complex (Diptera: Psychodidae, Phlebotominae) in Morocco

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Leishmania infantum (Kinetoplastida: Trypanosomatidae) infection is transmitted by an infected female sand fly (Diptera: Psychodidae, Phlebotominae) of the subgenus Larroussius: Phlebotomus ariasi, Phlebotomus perniciosus, and Phlebotomus longicuspis in the Mediterranean basin. In Morocco, the vectorial role of P. ariasi was demonstrated, while that of P. longicuspis and P. perniciosus is not elucidated. In addition, Moroccan P. longicuspis and P. perniciosus populations present a higher morphologic and genetic variability. It was classified as P. perniciosus complex, including typical (PN) and atypical (PNA) morphs of P. perniciosus, P. longicuspis sensu stricto (LCss), and a sibling species of P. longicuspis (LCx). With the aim to study the ecological and epidemiological status of P. perniciosus complex species in Morocco, entomological surveys were carried out during three entomological seasons (2012, 2013, and 2014). We collected a total of 6298 specimens from 81 localities of northern, central, and southern Morocco. After describing the geographical distribution of P. perniciosus complex trough Morocco according to many variables (altitude, latitude, and longitude), we discuss the resulting epidemiological implications of its species. Our results highlight the geographical distribution of the two morphs of P. perniciosus through Morocco: PN is limited to the north, while PNA is widespread in northern, central, and southern Morocco. In terms of vectorial role, we hypothesize the potential involvement of PN, LCss, and LCx, at least, with P. ariasi, in the epidemiological cycle of L. infantum in Morocco.

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The authors are very grateful to Prof. Bernard Pesson for the critical review of the manuscript and useful discussions. The authors would like to thank Dr. Meziane Bellefquih Abdelkrim (Regional Director of Ministry of Health) and Dr. Bashir Jbari (Delegate of Ministry of Health in Tétouan) for official permission to have access to local epidemiological data. Their sincere thanks go also to Dr. Boulaich Abdennor (Chief of SIAAP in Health Delegation of Tétouan) and Mr. Khantach AbdelAziz (technician in health services of Tétouan) for collaboration and technical help.

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Correspondence to Samia Boussaa.

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Zarrouk, A., Kahime, K., Boussaa, S. et al. Ecological and epidemiological status of species of the Phlebotomus perniciosus complex (Diptera: Psychodidae, Phlebotominae) in Morocco. Parasitol Res 115, 1045–1051 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00436-015-4833-0

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  • Phlebotomus perniciosus complex
  • Ecology
  • Human visceral leishmaniasis
  • Morocco