What is the initial clinical course 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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Depending on the species of parasite and the host’s immune status, the parasites may incubate for weeks to months before presenting as skin lesions or as a disseminated systemic infection involving the liver, spleen, and bone marrow. Temperature is an important factor that helps determine the localization of leishmanial lesions. Species causing visceral leishmaniasis are able to grow at core temperatures, whereas those responsible for cutaneous leishmaniasis grow best at lower temperatures. Pathogenesis appears related to T-cell cytotoxicity.

Cutaneous leishmaniasis is caused by L tropica; an animal reservoir for leishmaniasis caused by this organism has not been identified, although it has been found in some dogs in endemic areas. Morphologically, it is indistinguishable from L donovani. The life cycle is exactly the same as that of L donovani except that the amastigote form resides in the large mononuclear cells of the skin.

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