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  1. Kwang Poo Chang

Published Online: 15 MAY 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0001954.pub3



How to Cite

Chang, K. P. 2012. Leishmaniases. eLS. .

Author Information

  1. Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, Chicago Medical School, North Chicago, Illinois, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 MAY 2012


Leishmaniases are parasitic diseases, which are transmitted by the blood-sucking sand flies as the vectors. These diseases are largely zoonotic, but considered as anthroponotic in some endemic sites. The reservoir animals include canines, rodents, edentates and other wild animals. A spectrum of clinical manifestations is associated with these diseases, ranging from self-healing cutaneous lesions to facial mucocutaneous disfiguration to visceralization with fatal consequence. According to the World Health Organisation, there are 12 million cases of these diseases in approximately 90 countries with an annual incidence of approximately 2 million. Treatment of leishmaniases depends on very few drugs for chemotherapy, which are either expensive or toxic and have lost effectiveness due to drug-resistance. The causative agents are the trypanosomatid protozoa Leishmania, widespread in tropical and subtropical areas. Intraphagolysosomal parasitism of macrophages by these parasites is a key feature in considering molecular mechanisms of their virulence relevant to developing effective drugs and vaccines needed.

Key Concepts:

  • Trypanosomatid protozoa in the genus of Leishmania cause Leishmaniases.

  • They have evolved mechanisms to live in macrophage endosomes/lysosomes.

  • The diseases are wide-spread mainly in tropical and subtropical areas of the world.

  • The diseases are largely zoonotic and transmitted by blood-sucking sand flies.

  • Reservoirs include domestic and wild animals, for example, canines, rodents & edentates.

  • Clinically, there are cutaneous, mucocutaneous and visceral Leishmaniasis.

  • The clinical spectrum results from host immunopathology to Leishmania infection.

  • Chemotherapy relies on toxic drugs and loses its effectiveness to drug-resistance.

  • Drug development programs by targeting unique parasite enzymes are very few.

  • Control programs include the use of anti-vector pesticide/repellents.


  • Leishmania;
  • promastigotes;
  • amastigotes;
  • kala azar;
  • espundia;
  • leishmanization