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Leishmaniasis -Definition, Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Leishmaniasis - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment


Leishmaniasis is a vector-borne disease caused by obligate intracellular protozoa that belong to the genus Leishmania and is spread by the bite of some species of sand fly .there are about 21 of 30 species that infect human. There are numerous kinds of leishmaniasis but the two most common kinds of Leishmaniasis are cutaneous leishmaniasis, which produces skin sores, and visceral leishmaniasis , which impact on some of the internal parts of the body such as spleen, liver & bone marrow.This disease is also called as sandfly disease,leichmaniosis, kala azar , black fever , dum dum fever or espundia .

Leishmaniasis is commonly recognized for its cutaneous kind which produces non-fatal, disfiguring injury. Leishmania infection can produce skin disease known as cutaneous leishmaniasis. It can impact on the mucous membranes with a numerous range of occurrence, mostly it cause ulcers . It may produce skin wound that appear like those of other diseases such as hansen's disease, cutaneous tuberculosis , syphilis , skin cancer and fungal infections.


Leishmania are tiny protozoa . Their parasitic life cycle contains the blood sucking females i.e. sandflies and the right host. Humans are one such host. Leishmania infection can produce ulcers, skin disease & also cause  systemic disease .

When injected into the body by the bite of a sandfly, the parasite migrates to the bone marrow, spleen, and lymph nodes where it transform into amastigotes. Amastigotes grow in infected cells and affect different tissues , damage the immune system by reducing the numbers of disease fighting cells.

There are four main kinds of leishmaniasis:

  • Mucocutaneous- leishmaniasis - Which begins with skin ulcers & its movement produces tissue damage to mouth & nose .

  • Visceral- leishmaniasis - the most complex kind and potentially critical
    if uncured.

  • Cutaneous- leishmaniasis - the most general kind which produces number of sores on the skin.

  • Diffuse cutaneous leishmaniasis - this kind causes widespread skin injury which resemble Hansen's disease and is particularly difficult to cure.


The symptoms occurs after exposure to the bite of sandflies the skin may become thin grayish, dark,ashen, dry & flaky. The parasites harm the immune system by decreasing the numbers of white blood cells so death generally results from complications rather than from the disease itself. Death generally occurs within 2 years.

Symptoms of common leishmaniasis are:

  • Exposure to the bite of sandflies

  • Irregularly fever up to long duration .

  • Sleep hyperhidrosis

  • Fatigue

  • Weakness

  • Loss of Appetite

  • Loss of Weight

  • Abdominal disorder

  • Vomiting

  • Cough

  • Scaly skin

  • Loose bowels

  • Thinning hair

Symptoms of cutaneous leishmaniasis are:

  • Erythematous .

  • Skin ulcer.

  • Satellite injury.

Symptoms on mucous membranes are:

  • Stuffy nose.

  • Runny nose.

  • Nose bleeding.

  • Ulcers of tissue.

  • Difficulty in swallowing .

  • Breathing disorder.


Plastic surgery may be need to correct an appearance that has been spoiled by mucocutaneous leishmaniasis. Withdrawal of the splenectomy may be needed in drug-resistant conditions.

Compound containing antimony are the main treatment to cure leishmaniasis. These drugs are:

  • Sodium stibogluconate

  • Meglumine antimonate

There are some other drugs that may be used such as:

  • Amphotericin B

  • Pentamidine

About the Author: Steve Mathew is a writer, who writes many great articles on conditions, diseases and various other ailments. For more information on leishmaniasis, visit

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