Control of canine visceral leishmaniasis by euthanasia: estimated effect based on a survey and mathematical modeling

Visceral leishmaniasis is an emerging and neglected disease that is currently expanding to urban areas. The incidence of human disease is related to canine infection. Araçatuba and Birigui are municipalities (counties) in the state of São Paulo, Brazil, with 8-10% seroprevalence of canine infection and that employ control strategies targeting the canine reservoir, based on serological survey and culling of seropositive dogs. Using data from these control programs to parameterize mathematical models, this study assessed the efficacy of these activities. We estimated that current control is capable of reducing the incidence of canine visceral leishmaniasis (CVL) by approximately 20%. Assuming continuous control and three times the current serological survey activities in Araçatuba and Birigui, culling dogs with a positive CVL diagnosis would be effective for the control of canine infection. Although theoretically possible, in practice the control of CVL with the currently recommended strategies is insufficient, since it would require overcoming the difficulties in these activities, such as lack of material, human, and financial resources, besides associated ethical and legal issues.