The world’s first leishmaniasis vaccine received authorization from the Ministry of Agriculture to be sold in Brazil. The vaccine, called Leishmune, was developed by Brazilian researchers at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.
It is a veterinary product used on dogs, the chief hosts of the protozoan that transmits the disease.
Leishmaniasis has been known in Brazil since 1885. The disease attacks principally the liver and spleen, producing anomalies that sometimes cause deformities in victims.
The most common disease vector is the female sandfly of the “phlebotomus” genus.
According to the National Health Foundation (Funasa), over 44 thousand people were infected with leishmaniasis in the past 20 years.
Some time ago the Northeastern states and the northern part of Pará were where most cases of the disease occurred.
In recent years cases have been registered in locations in the Center-West region – especially in the cities of Unaí and Paracatu, in Minas Gerais – and around the city of Bauru, in São Paulo.
For the president of the Federal Pharmacological Council, Márcio Fonseca, use of the vaccine can help erradicate the disease in the country.
“It is a fantastic advance. Since I have been dealing with this for many years, my great hope was to see a vaccine for human use. But I have already seen the vaccine for dogs, which represents a big step towards the erradication of the disease. And I am certain that we shall have the human vaccine in a few years,” he wagers.
The president of the Regional Council of Veterinary Medicine, Marcia Villa, nevertheless, raises an alert for the security of the animals.
According to her, vaccinated dogs can be confused with animals infected by the disease.
“The problem is that the serological exams that exist at present are unable to distinguish sick animals from animals that are producing antibodies due to the vaccine.”
She said that discussions have been initiated to develop tests capable of recognizing this difference.
Translator: David Silberstein