In 1991, a community cross-sectional study was conducted in a village situated near the beach and close to Salvador, the capital city of Bahia, in Brazil, to determine the prevalence of visceral leishmaniasis since 1989. A serological survey was made of human and canine reservoirs and an intradermal skin test for leishmaniasis was used to assess cellular immune responses. Nearly 30% of the 243 individuals in the study area had positive skin tests and 14% had positive serology, the latter being compatible with recent infection; 29 of 460 dogs examined were seropositive. A possible association was observed between human infection and the presence of dogs in or near residences, but not between human infection and malnutrition. This report describes the evolution of a new focus of visceral leishmaniasis, its expansion toward a metropolitan area, and current measures taken to control the epidemic.

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