Hepatozoon canis and Leishmania spp. coinfection in dogs diagnosed with visceral leishmaniasis

Abstract This study describes the occurrence of dogs naturally co-infected with Hepatozoon canis and two Leishmania species: L. infantum or L. braziliensis. Four dogs serologically diagnosed with Visceral Leishmaniasis were euthanized. Liver and spleen samples were collected for histopathological analysis and DNA isolation. H. canis meronts were observed in tissues from all four dogs. H. canis infection was confirmed by PCR followed by sequencing of a fragment of 18S rRNA gene. Leishmania detection and typing was confirmed by ITS1' PCR-RFLP and parasite burden was calculated using ssrRNA quantitative qPCR. A DPP - Dual Path platform test was performed. One out (Dog #2) of four animals was asymptomatic. Dogs #1 and #4 were infected by L. infantum and were DPP test positive. Dogs #2 and #3 were infected by L. braziliensis and were DPP test negative. Furthermore, visceral dissemination was observed in Dogs #2 and #3, since L. braziliensis was detected in liver and spleen samples. The visceral dissemination of L. braziliensis associated with systemic signs suggested that this co-infection could influence the parasite burden and disease progression.