The use of FTA cards to monitor Leishmania infection and infectiousness in sandflies and midges

Aim: To evaluate the use of sugar-coated FTA cards to determine the infectiousness of phlebotomine sandflies and Culicoides midges for Leishmania metacyclic promastigotes.

Many vector-borne pathogens are injected into the host when vectors blood feed but are often also expectorated during sugarfeeding. This behaviour can be successfully exploited for parasite detection of the infective stages using FTA cards. These preserve RNA and DNA without the need for cold-chain storage, which is often problematic. This method is well established for mosquitoand midge-borne disease surveillance of arboviruses. Recently, we have shown that Plasmodium sporozoites can also be detected on FTA cards using PCR (Brugman et al., Scientific Reports, 2018). We intend to see if this approach is applicable to Leishmania transmission from sand flies and biting midges – a novel group of vectors suspected to transmit human pathogenic members of the Leishmania enriettii complex, including a cutaneous parasite from Ghana.