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Human Anatomy

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The host’s immune system becomes severely compromised as infection spreads and, if left untreated, most patients will die within 2-3 years often from secondary infections such as tuberculosis, pneumonia or dysentery. The skin sores of cutaneous leishmaniasis usually heal on their own, even without treatment. But this can take months or even years, and the sores can leave ugly scars. Certain types might spread from the skin and cause sores in the mucous membranes of the nose, mouth, or throat. Mucosal leishmaniasis might not be noticed until years after the original sores healed.


Leishmaniasis is a vector-borne disease that is transmitted by sandflies and caused by obligate intracellular protozoa of the genus Leishmania. Human infection is caused by about 21 of 30 species that infect mammals. Leishmaniasis is transmitted by the bite of infected female phlebotomine sandflies.


Public Health Issues

When outdoors, Minimize the amount of exposed skin. To the extent that is tolerable in the climate, wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and socks; and tuck your shirt into your pants. The most effective repellents generally are those that contain the chemical DEET. No vaccines or drugs to prevent infection are available. The best way for travelers to prevent infection is to protect themselves from sand fly bites. To decrease the risk of being bitten, follow these preventive measures. Avoid outdoor activities, especially from dusk to dawn, when sand flies generally are the most active.

Public/ Health Consquences



What Leishmaniasis looks like

Some who are infected remain asymptomatic while others progress to serious illness and death, at risk are those who are immunocompromised or malnourished. The promastigote form of the parasite multiplies in the gut of female sand flies after it has ingested the amastigote form from another person or animal. The promastigotes, which are injected into a human host while the sand fly is feeding, are phagocytised by macrophages where they return to an amastigote form. The amastigotes multiply within the macrophage’s phagolysosomes, protected from an immune response by the host. The incubation period within a human host can range from 10 days up to 2 years.


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