Study Describes the Areas of Mallorca at Risk for Leishmaniasis

ISGlobal researchers analyse the distribution of sand flies on the island and the environmental factors that favour their presence

Photo: CDC/ Dr. Francis W. Chandler

A study published in Parasites & Vectors provides new information on the epidemiology of leishmaniasis on the island of Mallorca. The authors include researchers from ISGlobal and the Parasitology Laboratory of the Faculty of Pharmacy at the University of Barcelona.

Although the presence of leishmaniasis on the island has been known for a long time, no up-to-date data was available on the insect vector that transmits the disease, with the last report on these small phlebotamine sand flies dating from 1989. The paper describes the environmental factors that favour the presence of the sand flies and indicates the areas of the island where there is a risk of leishmaniasis. "This was a study of the distribution of Phlebotomus perniciosus, the species principally responsible for the transmission of leishmaniasis caused by the Leishmania infantum parasite in the Mediterranean region", explains ISGlobal researcher Cristina Ballarat, one of the authors of the study.

The researchers calculated the probability of P. perniciosus presence at each sampling site as a function of environmental and meteorological factors. "The study has detected the presence of P. perniciosus throughout the island, with a higher probability at altitudes ranging from 51 to 150 metres above sea level, with adjacent garrigue shrub vegetation, at the edge of or between settlements, and in proximity to sheep farms," concludes Montserrat Gállego, UB researcher and coordinator of the study.


Alcover MM, Ballart C, Martín-Sánchez J, Serra T, Castillejo S, Portús M, Gállego M. Factors influencing the presence of sand flies in Majorca (Balearic Islands, Spain) with special reference to Phlebotomus pernicious, vector of Leishmania infantum. Parasites & Vectors. Sep 4 2014, 7 (1): 421. doi: 10.1186/1756-3305-7-421.