American Cutaneous Leishmaniasis in Panama: a historical review of entomological studies on anthropophilic Lutzomyia sand fly species
Dutari, Larissa C.
Loaiza, Jose R.
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We review existing information on the epidemiology of American Cutaneous Leishmaniasis (ACL) in Panama, with emphasis on the bionomics of anthropophilic Lutzomyia sand fly species. Evidence from Panamanian studies suggests that there are six anthropophilic species in the country: Lutzomyia trapidoi, Lu. panamensis, Lu. gomezi, Lu. ylephiletor, Lu. sanguinaria and Lu. pessoana (Henceforth Lu. carrerai thula). In general, these taxa are abundant, widespread and feed opportunistically on their hosts, which make them potential transmitters of pathogens to a broad range of wildlife, domesticated animals and humans. Furthermore, nearly all man-biting species in Panama (with the exception of Lu. gomezi) expand demographically during the rainy season when transmission is likely higher due to elevated Leishmania infection rates in vector populations. Despite this, data on the distribution and prevalence of ACL suggest little influence of vector density on transmission intensity. Apart from Lu. trapidoi, anthropophilic species seem to be most active in the understory, but vertical stratification, as well as their opportunistic feeding behavior, could vary geographically. This in turn seems related to variation in host species composition and relative abundance across sites that have experienced different degrees of human alteration (e.g., deforestation) in leishmaniasis endemic regions of Panama.