Equine infection with Leishmania spp. in Costa Rica: Study of five cases

María Victoria Ortega-García, Francisco Javier Salguero Bodes*, Nerea García, Mercedes Domínguez, Inmaculada Moreno, Alexis Berrocal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Cutaneous forms of leishmaniosis due to Leishmania braziliensis have been reported in horses in the New World. Domestic animals play a role in the transmission of the disease. In Costa Rica, human cases of L. braziliensis, L. panamensis and L. infantum have been reported. Objectives: The present report describes five cases of equine cutaneous leishmaniosis in Costa Rica. The aetiological diagnosis was based on the presence of the parasite within the lesions. Methods: Skin biopsies were used to perform histopathological analyses of the lesions. Immunohistochemistry was used to detect the presence of the Leishmania spp. antigens in tissue sections. Laser-capture micro-dissection and quantitative real-time PCR techniques were carried out to detect the pathogen nucleic acid within the microscopic lesions. Results: Histopathological analyses showed a granulomatous inflammation within the dermis, with multi-nucleated giant cells, macrophages, lymphocytes and few neutrophils and eosinophils. We detected the parasite by immunohistochemistry, using a rabbit polyclonal antibody raised against Leishmania spp. However, we could not identify Leishmania spp. by quantitative real-time PCR in formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tissues, using specific primers for the conserved region in the minicircle of the Leishmania DNA kinetoplast. Conclusions: Our results emphasise the importance of Leishmania spp. not only as a causative agent of equine cutaneous disease in the New World, but also as a possible emerging pathogen. Leishmaniosis is one of the most prevalent parasitic public health problems worldwide, and equines may have a role in the epidemiology of the disease.

Original languageEnglish
JournalVeterinary Medicine and Science
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by the Ayuntamiento de Madrid of the Comunidad de Madrid S2013/ABI‐2747 (TAVS‐CM) and by the Structural Funds of the European Union.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors. Veterinary Medicine and Science published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • cutaneous leishmaniosis
  • histopathology
  • horse
  • immunohistochemistry
  • Leishmania spp
  • leishmaniosis


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