Prof. Alon Warburg, Ph.D.

Biology and Control of Disease Vectors


1975-1978 B.Sc., Biology – Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

1979-1982 M.Sc., Vector Biology - Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

1984-1986 Ph.D., Vector Biology - Hebrew University of Jerusalem.



1986-1988 Post doctoral Fellow - Yale University, Laboratory of Epidemiology and Public Health, New Haven, USA.

1988-1989 World Health Organization's visiting expert on leishmaniasis. Centro Internacional de Investigaciones Medicas (CIDEIM), Cali, Colombia.

1989-1990 Wellcome Trust Research Fellow. Department of Medical Parasitology, The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, UK.

1990-1993 Visiting Associate. Laboratory of Malaria Research, NIAID/NIH, Bethesda, USA.

1994-2004 Senior lecturer, Department of Parasitology, Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

2004-2018 Associate Professor, Department of Parasitology, Hebrew University of Jerusalem.


Ongoing Research

Cutaneous leishmaniasis is emerging as a significant public health problem in Northern Israel, the Judean desert and parts of the West Bank. Studies we have conducted over the last few years have demonstrated that in the Galilee and the Judean desert cutaneous leishmaniasis is caused by Leishmania tropica and transmitted by the sand flies Phlebotomus sergenti and Ph. arabicus. Rock hyraxes were incriminated as reservoir hosts. These sand flies were shown to feed upon hyraxes and trasnsmit L. tropica by bite. In 2007 we became aware of a new focus of cutaneous leishmaniasis south of Beit Shean in the northern part of the Jordan Valley. Preliminary results of studies conducted near Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu show that the causative parasite in the focus is L. major , a species normally associated with desert rodents such as Psammomys obesus. The apparent reservoir host in Sde Eliyahu are voles (Microtus guentheri) that are exceptionally abundant in the agricultural fields near the kibbutz. A comprehensive study of the emerging focus including a large-scale control study using vertical mesh barriers, is planned for 2009-2014.

Soldiers of the US army stationed in Iraq and other endemic countries are experiencing significant morbidity brought on by sand fly bites and the Leishmania they transmit. Sand flies are notoriously difficult to control since their immature stages do not require water and develop in many different habitats. Recently we embarked on a major project funded by the US Army (Deployed War Fighter Protection program) aiming to develop efficacious methods, environmentally-sound methods for controlling phlebotomine sand flies in military installations and civilian settlements. Initial results indicate that vertical mesh barriers can block sand flies approaching inhabited areas and that Pralethrine diffusers are efficacious at reducing the numbers of sand flies inside rooms and tents.

Visceral leishmaniasis (VL) known as Kala-Azar is a very serious disease caused by Leishmania donovani parasites. An estimated 500,000 VL cases occur annually, mostly in India, East Africa and Brazil. In Africa, the worst affected regions are southern Sudan, with estimated 15,000-20,000 cases annually and Ethiopia with 4,000-5,000 diagnosed VL cases a year. Kala-Azar is considered an emerging disease in Ethiopia where it is frequently associated with AIDS, a leading cause of adult illness and death in that country. Untreated, Kala-Azar is usually fatal, but with appropriate treatment patients can recover.  A project was started in 2009 with the aims of  studying the ecology, population dynamics and behavior of the sand fly vectors of VL in relation to seasonal and nocturnal activities of villagers. Identifying and characterizing productive sand fly larval breeding habitats. Determining which populations comprise significant sources of infection for sand flies (xenodiagnosis). Is zoonotic transmission important for maintaining the disease?  To characterize L. donovani causing distinct pathologies and determine parasite sensitivity/resistance to different drugs. To formulate mathematical models for analyzing long-term quantitative data on parasites, vectors, reservoir hosts and human patients.


Key Publications

Warburg A. & Miller L.H. 1992. Sporogonic development of a malaria parasite in vitro. Science, 255: 448-450.

Warburg A . Saraiva E., Lanzaro G.C., Titus R . & Neva F. 1994. Saliva of Lutzomyia longipalpis sibling species , differs in its composition and propensity to enhance leishmaniasis. Phil Trans R Soc B, 354: 223-230.

Adini A., Krugliak M., Ginsburg H., Li L., Lavie L. & Warburg A. 2001. Transglutaminase in Plasmodium parasites: activity and putative role in oocysts and blood stages. Molec Biochem Parasitol 117: 161-168.

Wasserberg G. Abramsky Z, Kotler B.P.,. El Fari M,. Schoenian G,. Kabalo I.,. Schnur L, Anders G., A. & Warburg A. 2002. The Eco-epidemiology of cutaneous leishmaniasis in the Western Negev of Israel: heterogeneity in host prevalence and its underlying ecological mechanisms. Int J Parasitol 32: 133-143.

Jacobson R.L. , Eisenberger C. L., Svobodova M., Baneth G., Sztern J., Carvalho J., Naseredeen A., El Fari M., Shalom, U., Volf P., Votypka J., Dedet J., Pratlong F. T, Schőnian G. C, Schnur L. F. C, Jaffe C. L. C and Warburg A. (2003) Outbreak of cutaneous leishmaniasis in Northern Israel. J Inf Dis 188: 1065-1073.

Jaffe C.L. , Baneth G. , Abdeen Z. , Schlein, Y . and Warburg ,A (2004). Leishmaniasis in Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Trends Parasitol, 20: 328-332.

Kravchenko, V., Wasserberg, G. & Warburg, A. (2004). Bionomics of phlebotomine sandflies in the Galilee focus of cutaneous leishmaniasis in northern Israel. Med Vet Entomol. 18:418-428.

Svobodová, M . Votýpka, J . Pecková, J . Dvořák, V . Nasereddin, A. , Baneth, G. , Sztern, J. Kravchenko, V . Orr. A . Meir, D. Schnur, L.F. Volf, P. and Warburg, A. (2006). Distinct transmission cycles of Leishmania tropica in 2 adjacent foci, northern israel. Emerg Infect Dis, 12: 1860-1868.

Warburg, A. Shtern, S. Cohen ,N. and Dahan, N. (2007). Laminin and a Plasmodium ookinete surface protein inhibit melanotic encapsulation of Sephadex beads in the hemocoel of mosquitoes. Microbes Infect, 9: 192-199

Warburg, A, Gelman S. & Deutsch J . (2008). Xanthine in urine stimulates growth of Leishmania promastigotes in vitro. J Med Microbiol, 57: 136-138

Sirak-Weizman, M, Cunio R , Faiman R . & Warburg A . (2008). Control of phlebotomine sandflies in confined spaces using diffusible repellents and insecticides. Med Vet Entomol, 22:405-412.

Abbasi, I. Cunio, R. & Warburg, A (2009). Identification of blood meals imbibed by phlebotomine sand flies using cytochrome b PCR and reverse line blotting. Vec Borne Zoonot Dis 9: 79-86

Faiman, R , Cuño, R and Warburg A (2009). Comparative efficacy of three suction traps for collecting phlebotomine sand flies (Diptera:Psychodidae) in open habitats. J Vec Ecol 34:114-118.

Faiman, R , Cuño, R and Warburg A (2009). Control of Phlebotomine Sand Flies with Vertical Fine-Mesh Nets. J Med Entomol 46:820-831


1998-2018 G. Schonian, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany – "Leishmaniasis in Israel and the West Bank".

2008-2018 J. Beier, University of Miami, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health USA. -"Control of Mosquitoes in urban environments".


Gad Baneth, The Koret School of Veterinary Medicine, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem - “Emergence of Zoonotic cutaneous leishmaniasis in Israel - Is the rock hyrax the main reservoir host of Leishmania tropica?”


Richard Poche and Barry Miller, Genesis Labs, Wellington Colorado USA. "Sand Fly Control in rodent burrows and on cattle"

2009-2018 Z. Abdeen, Al-Quds University , Palestinian authority – "Leishmaniasis in Israel and the West Bank".

2009-2018  Asrat Hailu, Faculty of Medicine, Addis-Ababa University "Ecology and Transmission Dynamics of Kala-Azar in Ethiopia"

2009-2018 Teshome Gebre-Michael, Aklilu-Lemma Institute of Pathobiology , Addis-Ababa University "Ecology and Transmission Dynamics of Kala-Azar in Ethiopia"

2009-2018 Petr Volf , Department of Parasitology Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic  "Ecology and Transmission Dynamics of Kala-Azar in Ethiopia"

2009-2018 Jan Votypka, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic  "Ecology and Transmission Dynamics of Kala-Azar in Ethiopia"


Selected Research Support

1998-2003 Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) German-Palestinian-Israeli trilateral project on leishmaniasis in Israel and the West Bank.

1998-2007 Center for Emerging Diseases – Malaria parasites and their mosquito vectors.

2001-2004 Israel Science Foundation. Sand fly saliva and leishmaniasis. .

2005-2007 NIAID/NIH/USA/NIH/USA.Vector-Borne Disease control in urban environments.

2005-2018 US Army, Deployed WarFighter Protection Program (DWFP)Control of phlebotomine sand flies in military installations.

2007-2018 Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) German-Palestinian-Israeli trilateral project on Emergence of Leishmania tropica foci  in Israel and the West Bank.

2008-2018 Israel Science Foundation. Emergence of Zoonotic cutaneous leishmaniasis in Israel - Is the rock hyrax the main reservoir host of Leishmania tropica?

2009-2018 The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation- The Ecology and Transmission Dynamics of Kala-Azar in Ethiopia. Large collaborative project with Addis Ababa University