Four Equus asinus were challenged with promastigotes of Leishmania chagasi Cunha & Chagas, 1937, and followed up for 12 months. They were observed by means of direct testing for promastigotes in smears and culture of peripheral blood, fragments from inferior lip, bone marrow, spleen and liver and the immunological assays ELISA and TRALd. The post-necropsy histological examination demonstrated a small number of amastigotes in the liver of two animals. ELISA and TRALd tests were positive at the 8th, 10th and 12th month after inoculation. The results suggest that the donkeys were able to overcome the experimental leishmanial infection and did not infect the vector Lutzomyia longipalpis in the laboratory. Consequently they can not be considered an important reservoir in the epidemiological chain of transmission of visceral leishmaniasis, although they represent an important blood source for the vector and its proliferation.
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