Leishmaniasis are a group of parasitoses caused by several species of protozoa of the genus Leishmania and transmitted via insects (phlebotomine sandflies). Clinical manifestations are divided into visceral forms and cutaneous or mucocutaneous forms. Visceral leishmaniasis (or Kala-Azar) occurs in the Mediterranean basin, including Europe, and in India, China, Africa (particularly Eastern Africa), and South America. Symptoms include fever, anemia, and splenomegaly. If untreated, the disease is rapidly fatal. Treatment is based on antimony compounds, diamidines, or amphotericin B. Cutaneous and mucocutaneous leishmaniasis occur in tropical America, in Africa and from the Mediterranean littorals to India. Clinical manifestations range from cutaneous forms, with a single ulcerating granulomatous autoimmunizing skin lesion that heals spontaneously within a year but leaves a lifelong scar, to extensive mucocutaneous forms that can be very debilitating when located on the face. This latter form may be fatal. The treatment is identical to that for visceral leishmaniasis, but may be local or general, depending on the case.
Last update: February 2005