What are the demographics 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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Although no racial preferences are recognized or described for leishmaniasis, some minor associations with various racial groups have been noted. However, but those data are confounded by and result more strongly in association with occupational exposure

Males have an increased incidence of infection, about double that of females. The higher rates of infection in men, particularly visceral leishmaniasis, may be from increased environmental exposure to the habitat of the sandfly through occupation and leisure activity.

Leishmaniasis affects various age groups, depending on the infecting species, geographic location, disease reservoir, and host immunocompetence. Individuals at the extremes of age may be less able to mount effective immune responses to infection and therefore manifest clinical disease more often, especially seen in association with visceral leishmaniasis.

Cutaneous leishmaniasis affects all age groups. Reports from Afghanistan and Colombia show that adolescents and young adults are at risk the most. In Iran, most cases of the disease are found in infants.

Visceral leishmaniasis is found in all age groups in India and Brazil, where an animal reservoir has not been identified. In areas with known animal reservoirs, such as the Mediterranean Basin, visceral leishmaniasis mainly affects children, with devastating outcomes (eg, L infantum primarily affects children aged 1-4 y). This apparent predilection for the young appears to occur in highly endemic areas because of what may be protective immunity reducing the risk of reinfection in adults. Untreated visceral leishmaniasis in a pregnant mother can also have consequences on the fetus or result in congenital visceral leishmaniasis.

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