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Free Content Risk factors for visceral leishmaniasis in India: further evidence on the role of domestic animals

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Summary Objective 

Studies investigating risk factors for visceral leishmaniasis (VL) on the Indian Subcontinent have shown contradictory results related to the role of domestic animals. In some studies having animals in or around the house was a risk factor, in others it was protective. We investigated the specific hypothesis that keeping domestic animals inside the house at night is a risk factor for VL. Methods 

Individually matched case–control study. All patients with VL diagnosed in the study area in Bihar, India between March 1st, 2007 and December 1st, 2008 were eligible. For each case, we selected two random controls, with no history of previous VL; matched on sex, age group and neighbourhood. Patients and controls were subjected to a structured interview on the main exposure of interest and potential confounders; a conditional logistic regression model was used to analyse the data. Results 

We enrolled 141 patients and 282 controls. We found no significant associations between VL and keeping domestic animals inside the house (OR of 0.88 for bovines and 1.00 for ‘any animal’) or ownership of domestic animals (OR of 0.97 for bovines and 1.02 for ‘any animal’). VL was associated with housing conditions. Living in a thatched house (OR 2.60, 95% CI 1.50–4.48) or in a house with damp floors (OR 2.60, 95% CI 1.25–5.41) were risk factors, independently from socio economic status. Conclusion 

Keeping animals inside the house is not a risk factor for VL in Bihar, India. Improving housing conditions for the poor has the potential to reduce VL incidence.

Keywords: disease transmission; infectious; leishmaniasis; risk factors; visceral

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1:  London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK 2:  Institute of Medical Sciences Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, India 3:  Epidemiology and Disease Control Unit, Department of Public Health, Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp, Belgium

Publication date: July 1, 2010


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