Emerging parasitic disease mimics the symptoms of visceral leishmaniasis in people
A new study published this week online in Emerging Infectious Diseases suggests that transmission of a protozoan parasite from insects may also cause leishmaniasis-like symptoms in people. The parasite, however, does not respond to treatment with standard leishmaniasis drugs. The research was conducted by scientists at the Federal Universities of Sergipe and São Carlos, the University of São Paulo, and the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, all in Brazil, along with investigators at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
Leishmaniasis is a parasitic disease found in parts of the tropics, subtropics, and southern Europe. It is classified as a neglected tropical disease and is often transmitted by the bite of some sand flies. The most common forms of leishmaniasis are cutaneous, which causes skin sores, and visceral, which affects several internal organs (usually spleen, liver, and bone marrow). According to the World Health Organization, each year between 50,000 and 90,000 people become sick with visceral leishmaniasis (kala-azar), a form of the disease that attacks the internal organs and is fatal in more than 95 percent of cases left untreated. During the last several decades, researchers have described rare cases of patients co-infected with both Leishmania and other groups of protozoan parasites that usually infect insects, including Crithidia. The current study of parasites isolated from a Brazilian patient confirms that Crithidia parasites also can infect people.
This page was last updated on Friday, January 21, 2022