Objectives To identify characteristics that increased the risk of mortality in Ethiopian visceral leishmaniasis patients in a treatment programme managed by Médecins sans Frontières, in Tigray, Northern Ethiopia.
Methods Retrospective review of a cohort of 791 patients treated for visceral leishmaniasis.
Results The cohort displayed all the classical signs and symptoms of the disease. The case fatality rate was 18.5% (146) (95% CI: 15.8–21.3%). Logistic regression showed that individuals who experienced at least one episode of vomiting or haemorrhage were more likely to die than those who did not. A subcohort of individuals who tested human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-positive were more than four times more likely to die than those who tested HIV-negative (OR 4.5, 95% CI: 1.8–11.4).
Conclusion This study identifies characteristics associated with death in this population and highlights the devastating effect of co-infection with visceral leishmaniasis and HIV in the African context.