What are the categories of leishmaniasis?

Updated: Feb 18, 2020
  • Author: Craig G Stark, MD, FACP, FFTM, RCPS(Glasg), FISTM; Chief Editor: Pranatharthi Haran Chandrasekar, MBBS, MD  more...
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Answer

The 2 simplest and most widely used disease categorization systems are based on clinical disease and geographic occurrence, as follows:

  • Clinical disease: The primary clinical forms of leishmaniasis are cutaneous, mucocutaneous, and visceral disease; cutaneous manifestations can be further subdivided into localized, diffuse (disseminated), recidivans, and post–kala-azar dermal leishmaniasis

  • Geographic occurrence: Old World leishmaniasis is caused by Leishmania species found in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, the Mediterranean, and India, and it produces cutaneous or visceral disease; New World leishmaniasis is caused by Leishmania species found in Central America and South America, and it produces cutaneous, mucocutaneous, and visceral disease. Diagnosis of leishmaniasis is often difficult because of the small size of the protozoa sequestered within macrophages of the skin, bone marrow, and reticuloendothelial system.

Therapy has long been a challenge in the more severe forms of the disease, and it is made more difficult by the emergence of drug resistance. No effective vaccine for leishmaniasis is available.


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