Nocturnal Activity, Monthly Leptomonad Infection, Parity Rate and Physiological Status of Vectors of Zoonotic Cutaneous Leishmaniasis (Diptera: Psychodidae) in Southeastern Iran

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Background: Phlebotomus papatasi and P. salehi are reported as vectors of cutaneous leishmaniasis in southeast of Iran. Seasonal activity of these species is different in zoogeographical zones and must be known well for better management of the disease. Objectives: To determine the nocturnal activity of sand flies and their leptomonad infection rates. Materials and Methods: A cross-sectional study was carried out in Chabahar county, where sand flies were collected using sticky-paper traps at 2 - hours intervals from rodent burrows during May to October. Females of Phlebotomus spp. were dissected for leptomonad infection. Results: A total of 9367 sand flies from four species of Phlebotomus and Sergentomyia genera were collected. The most sand flies were collected in the first third of the night (7:00-11:00 PM), although there was seasonal variation in the nocturnal activity of different species. A total of 1132 female sand flies from two species of P. papatasi and P. salehi were dissected. Totally 2.1% of P. papatasi and 1.07% of P. salehi were found to have leptomonad infection in their midgut, pharynx or head. The infection was observed in September and October in P. salehi, but June, August, September and October for P. papatasi. Conclusions: Knowledge about nocturnal activity and biting rhythms of sand flies and therefore the risk of disease transmission is important for planning control programs for cutaneous leishmaniasis(CL).