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Leishmaniasis

Leishmaniasis is a multiform parasitic disease that results from an infection of one of the many species of protozoa belonging to the genus Leishmania. There are three common variations of Leishmaniasis in humans - Cutaneous, Mucucutaneous, and Visceral. There is also a less common variation of Leishmaniasis known as Diffuse Cutaneous Leishmaniasis. The clinical manifestations of disease vary depending on the form, and each of the Leishmaniases corresponds to a different set of Leishmania sp. protozoa. There are 23 species of Leishmania, 20 of which are infective to humans, and all of which are morphologically similar. The vector of Leishmania protozoa is the sandfly of the Phlebotomus or Lutzomyia genus and there are a number of animal reservoirs (especially rodents and canines) for Leishmaniasis. Key facts about the three most common forms of Leishmaniasis are briefly highlighted below, however, to learn more about this parasitic disease with respect to signs and symptoms, the various clinical presentations, diagnostics, morphology, life cycle, pathology and treatment, please visit the Links and References section of the website.

CUTANEOUS
  • Geographical Distribution: "90% of cutaneous leishmaniasis cases occur in Afghanistan, Brazil, Iran, Peru, Saudi Arabia and Syria" - WHO
  • Signs & Symptoms: Skin ulcers on exposed parts of the body; Lesions on arms, legs and face
  • CL is the most common form of Leishmaniasis, and often ulcers are self-healing
MUCUCUTANEOUS
  • Geographical Distribution: "90% of mucocutaneous leishmaniasis occurs in Bolivia, Brazil and Peru" - WHO
  • Signs & Symptoms: Early symptoms are similar to those of Cutaneous Leishmaniasis, however, as the disease progresses lesions are extremely severe and disfiguring as they are more common in mucous membranes of the nose, mouth and throat cavities and surrounding tissues.
  • MCL is primarily caused by an L. Braziliensis infection
VISCERAL
  • Geographical Distribution: " 90% of all visceral Leishmaniasis cases occur in Bangladesh, Brazil, India, Nepal and Sudan" - WHO
  • Signs and Symptoms: Bouts of fever, anorexia, weight loss, swelling of the spleen and liver, and anaemia (occasionally serious).
  • Patients with VL are often asymptomatic and if VL is left untreated it is almost 100% fatal!