Estimating the efficacy of community-wide use of systemic insecticides in dogs to control zoonotic visceral leishmaniasis: A modelling study in a Brazilian scenario - Project 2.4 journal article

Sonia A. Gomez , Lloyd A. C. Chapman, Erin Dilger, Orin Courtenay, Albert Picado

PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases 12/9


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Systemic insecticides in dogs have been suggested as a public health intervention to prevent human cases of Zoonotic Visceral Leishmaniasis (ZVL). But, currently there are no systemic insecticides for dogs registered against zoo-anthropophilic pool blood feeding phlebotomine flies. We predict the impact of community-wide use of systemic insecticide in dog populations as a public health measure to control transmission of Leishmania infantum to humans using a mathematical model. We developed a Susceptible-Exposed-Infected (SEI) compartmental model to describe Linfantum transmission dynamics in dogs, with a vectorial capacity term to represent transmission between Linfantum-hosting dogs via phlebotomine flies. For Infected (I) dogs two levels of infectiousness were modelled, high infectiousness and low infectiousness. Human incidence was estimated through its relationship to infection in the dog population. We evaluated outcomes from a wide range of scenarios comprising different combinations of initial insecticide efficacy, duration of insecticide efficacy over time, and proportion of the dog population treated (60%, 70% & 80%). The same reduction in human infection incidence can be achieved via different combinations of insecticide efficacy, duration and dog coverage. For example, a systemic insecticide with an initial efficacy of 80% and 6 months above 65% efficacy would require treating at least 70% of the dogs to reduce the human infection incidence by 50%. Sensitivity analysis showed that the model outcome was most sensitive to baseline values of phlebotomine fly daily survival rate and insecticide coverage. Community-wide use of systemic insecticides applied to the “Linfantum canine reservoir” can significantly reduce human incidence of Linfantum infection. The results of this mathematical model can help defining the insecticide target product profile and how the insecticide should be applied to maximise effectiveness.


Author summary

Zoonotic visceral leishmaniasis (ZVL) is a potentially deadly disease in humans caused by Leishmania infantum. This leishmania species can be delivered by pool blood feeding zoo-anthropophilic phlebotomine flies to several mammals, the dog population being recognized as the main reservoir. Transmission from infected dogs to humans is through the bite of female phlebotomine sand flies. The disease is endemic in several countries and Brazil has a high prevalence of cases with over 3000 ZVL cases reported per year. The main, inefficient and highly controversial, control measure in Brazil has been culling sero-positive dogs. The community-wide use of systemic insecticides in dogs could be an alternative to control Linfantum transmission from phlebotomine flies to humans. The rationale is that phlebotomine flies which sampled their blood meals from dogs treated with systemic insecticides would die reducing the risk of Linfantum transmission. To reduce the number of ZVL cases, a large proportion of dogs in the community should be treated and the systemic insecticide used should be effective in killing phlebotomine flies acting as vectors of Linfantum parasites for a significant amount of time. We used a mathematical model mimicking Linfantum transmission to show that this novel vector control strategy could be effective. We identified the combination of different key parameters (e.g. insecticide efficacy, duration and proportion of dogs treated) that could lead to a significant reduction of the risk of Linfantum infection in humans.