Phlebotomus papatasi, an Old World sand fly species, is primarily responsible for the transmission of leishmaniasis, a highly infectious and potentially lethal disease. International travel, especially military rotations, between domestic locations and P. papatasi-prevalent regions in the Middle East poses an imminent threat to the public health of US citizens. Because of its small size and cryptic morphology, identification of P. papatasi is challenging and labor-intensive. Here, we developed a ribosomal DNA-polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based diagnostic assay that is capable of detecting P. papatasi genomic DNA from mixed samples containing multiple sand flies native to the Americas. Serial dilution of P. papatasi samples demonstrated that this diagnostic assay could detect one P. papatasi from up to 255 non-target sand flies. Due to its simplicity, sensitivity and specificity, this rapid identification tool is suited for a long-term surveillance program to screen for the presence of P. papatasi in the continental United States and to reveal geographical regions potentially vulnerable to sand fly-borne diseases.

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Published in Insects, v. 9, issue 4, 162, p. 1-12.

© 2018 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

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This research was funded by a start-up fund and a gift fund to X.Z.

Related Content

The following are available online at https://www.mdpi.com/2075-4450/9/4/162/s1, Table S1: Sequence comparison between P. papatasi salivary apyrase primer set 2 product and apyrase transcripts in other sand flies, Table S2: Sequence comparison between P. papatasi salivary apyrase primer set 2 product and top blastn hits.

The information reported in this paper is part of a project of the Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station and is published with the approval of the Director.

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