Leishmaniasis is a complex of zoonotic diseases that are endemic to many Brazilian states. They are transmitted to the vertebrates by the bite of the hematophagous female sand fly (Diptera: Psychodidae) vectors. Despite the increasing occurrence of visceral and cutaneous leishmaniasis cases in large urban centers, their transmission continues to occur primarily in a wild environment and may be associated with professional activities, ecotourism activities, or both. This study investigates the ecological parameters of the sand flies present in Ibitipoca State Park, Minas Gerais, Brazil. During 2009, systematic collections of sand flies were made monthly using HP light traps installed at five sites, including three natural settings (a cave, riparian vegetation, and a rain forest), the tourist and researchers' accommodations, and a surrounding domestic livestock area. In total, 161 sand flies (seven species) were collected, the most abundant, particularly in the surrounding domestic livestock area, being Lutzomyia (Psychodopygus) lloydi (Antunes, 1937). Furthermore, a previously unidentified Lutzomyia (Sciopemyia) sp. was prevalent in the cave environment. There are no existing records of the occurrence of leishmaniasis in Ibitipoca State Park; however, the some species of the subgenus Psychodopygus are known vectors of Leishmania spp in Brazil. Hence, the presence of a species of this genus in areas surrounding the park may represent a risk to ecotourism and the local inhabitants. Our study shows the importance of regular monitoring of the various areas used by humans to determine the distribution and spread of sand fly vectors for preventive management to forestall potential risk to health and consequent effect on ecotourists.
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Vol. 48 • No. 4