Isolation and characterization of flagellates from rodents and canids in Masinga, Machakos District, Kenya.
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A total of 728 animals comprising of 633 rodents and 95 canids were examined for leishmanial parasites. Flagellates were isolated from 67 out of 111 (60.4%) Acomys subspinosus (spiny mouse), 12 out of 143 (8.4% ) Mastomys natalensis (multimammate rat), 2 out of 50 (4.0%) Lemniscomys striatus (striped mouse), 2 out of 6 (33.3%) Herpestes sanguineus (slender mongoose), 1 of 1 Helogale parvula (dwarf mongoose) and 1 out of 84 Canis familiaris (domestic dog). All isolates were characterized by Isoenzyme analysis using nine enzymes, namely, malate dehydrogenase (MDH), phosphoglucomutase (PGM), glucose phosphate isomerase (GPI), isocitrate dehydrogenase (ICD), nucleoside hydrolase (NH), glucose 6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD), malic enzyme (ME), 6-phosphogluconate dehydrogenase (GPGD) and mannose phosphate isomerase (MPI). Enzyme profiles of these isolates were compared with those of five WHO Leishmania reference strains and five well characterized rodent trypanosomes of the subgenus Herpetosoma. The profiles of the isolates were found to be different from those of the Leishmania and Trypanosoma reference strains but the parasites were morphologically similar to rodent trypanosomes. These results suggest that Leishmania parasites were not among the isolates. The enzymes profiles of the three mongoose isolates were identical but differed from profiles of isolates from rodents and dog. This is the first time in Kenya that a high prevalence of nonpathogenic trypanosomes is reported in rodents and canids. From the epidemiological point of view, these trypanosomes must be differentiated from the pathogenic species of trypanosomes and Leishmania that infect man and other animals. The results of this study suggest that rodents do not seem to play a role as reservoirs of Leishmania parasites in Masinga Location, Kenya.