Increased Prevalence of Human Cutaneous Leishmaniasis in Israel and The Palestinian Authority Caused by the Recent Emergence of a Population of Genetically Similar Strains of Leishmania tropica
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Twelve unlinked microsatellite markers were used to determine the microsatellite profiles of 50 newly and 46 previously typed strains of L. tropica from various Israeli and Palestinian foci. Their microsatellite profiles were compared to those of 99 previously typed strains of L. tropica from 15 countries. Israeli and Palestinian strains of L. tropica fell into three different groups, one of which contained 75 of the 96 Israeli and Palestinian strains. This population separated fromall the others at the first hierarchical level by Bayesian statistics and formed a distinct monophyletic group on applying genetic distance and allele frequency analyses. The second cluster contained ten Israeli strains from a specific focus north of the Sea of Galilee,whichwere previously shown to differ from all other strains of L. tropica in their serological, biochemical and molecular biological parameters. This clusterwas closely related to clusters comprising strains of L. tropica from Africa. Four Israeli and five Palestinian strains fell into different genetic entities mostly related to strains from Asian foci of CL. Importation during numerous migrations of humans and, perhaps, infected reservoir animals in the past and, now, through modern travel is the most likely explanation for the existence of so many locally encountered genetic variants of L. tropica in the Israeli-Palestinian region. Geographical and ecological variation may play a role in expanding the genetic heterogeneity once given importations had become established in different foci. Currently, one population is expanding in the area comprising almost all of the Palestinian and Israeli strains of L. tropica isolated since 1996 and investigated in this study, which differ clearly from all other strains ofwhatsoever origin. This population seems to result from the re-emergence of a previously existing genotype owing to environmental changes and human activities.