What is the prognosis of visceral 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

Visceral leishmaniasis is a serious, progressive, and potentially lethal systemic disease. It tends to affect individuals in poor states of health, with poor nutritional status, and with even the most minor decreased immune status much more severely than individuals with good health, good nutritional status, and intact immune systems.

In well-nourished individuals with intact immune systems, full recovery from visceral disease is expected after treatment with the appropriate medication. With early therapy and supportive care, mortality in patients with visceral disease is reduced to approximately 5%; without therapy, most patients with visceral disease (kala-azar) (75-95%) die within 2 years, often from malnutrition and secondary infection, such as bacterial pneumonia, septicemia, dysentery, tuberculosis, cancrum oris, and uncontrolled hemorrhage or its sequelae.

In some endemic regions, pentavalent antimonial resistance is causing increased mortality rates.


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