Leishmaniasis affects some of the poorest people in the world. It is found in parts of Asia, Africa, the Americas and southern Europe. The disease is caused by the protozoan parasite Leishmania and is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected plebotomine sandflies. In some cases there may be an animal reservoir host.
There are three main forms of the disease:
- Visceral leishmaniasis (also known as VL or kala-azar) affects internal organs such as the liver and spleen. VL is fatal if not treated. A condition called post-kala-azar dermal leishmaniasis (PKDL) may arise six months or more after apparent cure from VL. This manifests as a rash and occurs mainly in East Africa and in the Indian subcontinent.
- Cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL) causes skin lesions. It is the most common form of the disease.
- Mucocutaneous leishmaniasis affects the mucous lining of the nose, mouth and throat. It can cause disfigurement which leads to stigma of those who are badly affected.
Poor socio-economic conditions and malnutrition are among the risk factors of leishmaniasis.
TDR related research
TDR supports research to eliminate visceral leishmaniasis.
Working to maintain progress eliminating visceral leishmaniasis
WHO estimates investments needed for neglected tropical diseases
Scientific group on vectors, environment and society meets
TDR at ASTMH – history and Ebola
Research Priorities for Chagas Disease, Human African Trypanosomiasis and Leishmaniasis
Adaptation to social, environmental and climate change impacts on vector-borne diseases
Research Priorities for Zoonoses and Marginalized Infections
Visceral Leishmaniasis Rapid Diagnostic Test Performance
Related links from WHO
- WHO fact sheet: leishmaniasis
- WHO programmes information: leishmaniasis
- WHO health topics: leishmaniasis
- Data: leishmaniasis
- Information resources: leishmaniasis
- Endemicity of visceral leishmaniasis worldwide, 2012. Map, 2014
- Endemicity of cutaneous leishmaniasis worldwide, 2012. Map, 2014
- Search the WHO photo library