Overview of Leishmaniasis

Leishmaniasis is a parasitic illness transmitted by the bite of infected phlebotomine sandflies infected by protozoa Leishmania. Female phlebotomine sand flies get infected by Leishmania parasites when they drink the blood of an infected animal, such as a dog or rodent. You will see a red ring on your skin after being bitten by an infected sandfly. Blood transfusions and sharing of needles are additional ways to contract visceral leishmaniasis. It can also pass from an infected pregnant woman to her unborn child.

Leishmaniasis is common in around 88 different countries, and most of these nations are located in tropical or subtropical regions. However, if you plan on visiting the Middle East or areas of Central America, South America, Asia, Africa, or southern Europe, you should be aware of it.


The different types of leishmaniasis are:

  • Cutaneous leishmaniasis
  • Mucocutaneous leishmaniasis
  • Visceral leishmaniasis


Depending on the disease's type, several symptoms may be present.

Cutaneous leishmaniasis

Skin ulcers with no pain are the primary sign of this condition. Cutaneous signs might develop a few weeks after being bitten by an infected sandfly. Sometimes symptoms won't appear for years.

Mucocutaneous leishmaniasis

In people with mucocutaneous leishmaniasis, symptoms usually appear later after the skin lesions. These are typically ulcers on their lips, mouth, or nose. Other signs can also include:

Visceral leishmaniasis

While leishmaniasis symptoms may take months to manifest most of them become evident between two and six months after the illness starts. Common signs and symptoms include:

When To See Doctor?

If you have traveled to places where leishmaniasis is common or if you or your loved ones exhibit any symptoms like runny nose, fever that lasts for weeks, skin ulcers, etc., consult the doctor immediately.


Leishmaniasis is caused because of a protozoan parasite from the Leishmania species. It is transmitted through the bite of an infected sandfly.

The parasite reproduces and resides inside the female sand fly. This insect is most active in humid surroundings during the warmer months and the hours between dark and dawn. Dogs are an example of a domestic animal that can act as a reservoir for the parasite. Through blood transfusions or shared needles, humans can also spread the parasite to one another. In some countries, transmission can also happen from a person to a sandfly.

Risk factors

Several factors increase the risk of contracting Leishmaniasis, including;

  • Climate and geography Leishmaniasis is prevalent in tropical and subtropical regions, particularly in countries with warm and humid climates.
  • Travel history Traveling to areas where Leishmaniasis is common increases the risk of infection, especially for those who spend time outdoors or engage in activities such as camping, hiking, or hunting.
  • Immune system Individuals with a weakened immune system, such as those with HIV/AIDS, are at a higher risk of contracting Leishmaniasis.
  • Occupation Certain occupations, such as farmers, miners, or military personnel, increase the risk of exposure to infected sand flies.
  • Living conditions Living in poorly constructed homes that provide shelter for sand flies increases the risk of infection.
  • Contact with infected animals Domestic and wild animals, such as dogs and rodents, can be infected with Leishmania parasites and serve as a reservoir for the disease.
  • Age Children and older adults are more susceptible to contracting Leishmaniasis, as their immune systems may not be as strong.


The complications may include the following:

  • Anemia Anemia: Leishmaniasis can cause severe anemia, leading to fatigue, weakness, and decreased energy levels.
  • Immune System Suppression The disease can weaken the immune system, making the patient susceptible to other infections.
  • Kidney Failure Kidney Failure: In some cases, the parasites can invade the kidneys and cause kidney failure.
  • Organ Damage The parasites can also damage other organs in the body, such as the liver, spleen, and lymph nodes.
  • Skin Lesions Leishmaniasis can cause skin lesions and disfigurement, leading to social stigma and psychological distress.
  • Breathing Difficulties The disease can sometimes cause breathing difficulties and lung infections.
  • Blindness In some cases, the disease can damage the eyes and cause blindness.
  • Pregnancy Complications Leishmaniasis can cause complications and lead to stillbirths or low birth weight infants.
  • Chronic Illness The disease can become chronic, causing recurrent infections and a persistent state of ill health.
  • Fatality In severe cases, leishmaniasis can lead to fatality, particularly in patients with weakened immune systems.


There isn't a vaccination or preventative medicine available. Avoiding a sandfly bite is the only method to protect yourself from leishmaniasis. Follow these steps to prevent:

  • Wear clothes that completely cover your body. High socks, long pants, and long-sleeved shirts tucked into pants are advised.
  • Apply insect repellent to exposed skin and the cuffs and ends of your sleeves and slacks. DEET is included in the most efficient insect repellents.
  • Staying or sleeping at higher levels of buildings is recommended.
  • Avoid being outdoors in the evening because sand flies are most active at that time.
  • When feasible, use screens and air conditioning indoors. Using fans will make it harder for the insects to fly.
  • Use a bed net that is tucked under the mattress. Because sand flies are considerably smaller than mosquitoes, a well-woven net is necessary. If possible, spray the net with a repellent that contains pyrethroid.


Characteristic symptoms and signs, a comprehensive case history, a thorough clinical examination, and a number of tests are used to diagnose leishmaniasis. A detailed case history will reveal whether or not the patient has traveled to places where the disease is prevalent. Tests performed to diagnose leishmaniasis include.

  • Needle biopsy A doctor will use a needle to take a tissue sample from your bone marrow, lymph nodes, or spleen. A lab technician will examine Leishmania under a microscope, and it's the best way to detect visceral leishmaniasis.
  • Skin biopsy A tissue sample from an ulcer on your skin, nose, or mouth will be taken by a specialist. The sample will be examined for Leishmania by a lab professional who can identify leishmaniasis of the skin or mucous membranes.
  • Blood tests A doctor may examine the blood to detect Leishmania infection. A tiny needle inserted into a vein in your arm to get a sample of your blood.


This disease is treated with antiparasitic medications. Depending on the type of leishmaniasis, your doctor can suggest other therapies, such as:

  • Cutaneous leishmaniasis Cutaneous ulcers often recover on their own. Treatment, however, can speed the healing process, lessen scarring, and cut the chance of developing new symptoms. Plastic surgery could be necessary for any skin sores that leave a disfiguring mark.
  • Mucocutaneous leishmaniasis These wounds don't heal naturally and always need to be treated with medications.
  • Visceral leishmaniasis Visceral disease always requires treatment. They can be treated by medications.

Do's And Don'ts

By following the do's and don'ts it's possible to avoid transmission of Leishmaniasis.

Do’s Don’ts
Practice good hygiene by washing your hands regularly and keeping your surroundings clean. Ignore Leishmaniasis's symptoms.
Wear protective clothing, especially when entering areas with a high risk of flies exposure. Ignore the need for preventive measures such as insect repellent, protective clothing, and screens.
Use insect-repellent sprays or creams while spending time outdoors. Travel to Leishmaniasis infected regions.
Seek medical help immediately if you notice any symptoms of Leishmaniasis. Avoid taking preventive measures for your pets.
Cover windows and doors with screens to prevent sandfly entry. Avoid wearing full body covered clothes.

Care at Medicover Hospitals

At Medicover hospitals, we have the best General Physicians and medical professionals to treat Leishmaniasis with the highest accuracy. Our qualified physicians are equipped with excellent diagnostic facilities for screening and treating Leishmaniasis.

Find Leishmaniasis Specialists Here

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