In recent years feline leishmanial infections (FLI) have been studied more than ever before in various parts of the world. However, evidence-based knowledge on FLI has remained unavailable. The main objectives of this study were to investigate the status of felines infected by Leishmania spp. worldwide. Data were extracted from 10 available databases over the period of 1982 to 2017. Overall, 78 articles fulfilled the inclusion criteria and were used for data extraction in this systematic review. The overall FLI prevalence by both serological and molecular methods was estimated at 10% (95% CI: 8%-14%). In Italy, both the seroprevalence (24 %) and PCR prevalence (21 %) were found to be higher than in other countries. The most common diagnostic test used was the indirect fluorescent antibody test (38.5%). Studies on mixed-breed felines were more common than those on other breeds, while the most common parasite species was L. infantum (63%). Our findings suggest that cats act as primary and/or secondary reservoir hosts in the transmission of the Leishmania spp. to humans and also to dogs, by sandflies, at least in endemic foci. Moreover, available data confirm the enzootic stability situation of FLI in several countries including some in Europe.
Keywords: Feline leishmanial infection, Global prevalence, Diagnostic tests, Systematic review, Meta-analysis.