Leishmaniasis is a parasitic infection caused by leishmania parasites that spread through infected female phlebotomine sand fly bites. It is common in tropics, subtropics, and southern Europe. Around 1.5 million cases of cutaneous leishmaniasis and 0.5 million cases of visceral leishmaniasis are reported worldwide annually.

Leishmaniasis is of three types, those are:

  • Cutaneous leishmaniasis: This type of leishmaniasis is characterized by skin and mucous membrane infections. Cutaneous leishmaniasis starts with sores near the sandfly bite. Cases of initial sores on mucous membranes are also reported.
  • Systemic, or visceral, leishmaniasis: In this type of leishmaniasis, the infection spreads all over the body. This usually begins a couple of months after you are bitten by the sand fly. It affects the internal organs and hampers the immune system. So if neglected, this can lead to deadly complications.
  • Mucocutaneous leishmaniasis: Characteristics of this type of leishmaniasis include ulcers of the skin, mouth and nose.

symptoms of leishmaniasis:

Skin sores, skin ulcers, breathing and swallowing difficulty are associated with cutaneous leishmaniasis. Symptoms of systemic visceral leishmaniasis are weight loss, brittle hair, fever, swollen spleen and liver. Low levels of blood cells are also associated with visceral leishmaniasis. Some won’t show up any evident symptoms.

How is leishmaniasis diagnosed?

Consult a doctor if you had been to an area where leishmaniasis is common and you show up symptoms associated with leishmaniasis. There are specific laboratory tests for diagnosing leishmaniasis. Tissues from skin sores and bone marrow are tested. Presence of parasites in skin sores signals cutaneous leishmaniasis and parasites in bone marrow indicates visceral leishmaniasis. Blood test may also be recommended in the case of visceral leishmaniasis to check for antibodies produced against the parasite.


Liposomal amphotericin B is used to treat leishmaniasis. It is the only leishmaniasis drug approved in the U.S.

Can leishmaniasis be prevented?

Yes! It can be prevented. The only way to prevent leishmaniasis is to avoid the bite of the sand fly. Use insect precautions, such as protective clothing, bed nets and insect repellents for the purpose.