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Geographical information systems and remote sensing were used to analyze the distribution of the Leishmania infantum-Phlebotomus perniciosus parasite-vector system in relation to environmental features of two opposite sides (coastal and Apennine) of Mt. Vesuvius, an area of intense transmission of human and canine leishmaniasis in southern Italy. Weekly phlebotomine collections were carried out during two consecutive warm seasons (2004- 2005) in 24 and 25 sites of the coastal and Apennine sides, respectively. Sandflies were caught using over one-thousand and seven hundred 20 x 20 cm-sticky traps placed in different environments. A total of 873 sandflies were collected, of which 284 (32.5%) were identified as P. perniciosus. The cumulative density (number of specimens/m2 of sticky trap/two nights) of this vector species was 3.9. P. perniciosus was significantly more abundant in the coastal side (5.8) as compared to the Apennine side (1.4). The main environmental differences between the two sides were the aspect (south-west for the coastal and north-east for the Apennine side) and land use. The predominance of green vegetated environments (forest, semi-natural and agricultural areas) in the coastal side, in contrast with the predominance of artificial surfaces (namely urban environment) in the Apennine side, could be responsible for the different P. perniciosus densities between the two surveyed areas.
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