• Medical Author:
    Mary D. Nettleman, MD, MS, MACP

    Mary D. Nettleman, MD, MS, MACP is the Chair of the Department of Medicine at Michigan State University. She is a graduate of Vanderbilt Medical School, and completed her residency in Internal Medicine and a fellowship in Infectious Diseases at Indiana University.

  • Medical Editor: Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

Can leishmaniasis be prevented?

Leishmaniasis can be prevented by avoiding the bite of the sand fly. Simple insect precautions, including protective clothing (long sleeves, long pants, socks) and insect repellents containing N,N-diethylmetatoluamide (DEET), reduce the risk of bites. Because sand flies are most active in the evening and nighttime, efforts should be made to reduce exposure in sleeping accommodations. Sand flies are very small and are even smaller than mosquitoes. Finely meshed bed nets may be used and may be impregnated with insecticides such as permethrin (Elimite, NIX) or deltamethrin. Sand flies are weak fliers, so bed nets should be tucked under mattresses. Clothing may also be treated with permethrin to repel insects. Domestic dogs can be fitted with an insecticide-containing collar, such as the Scalibor collar, which contains deltamethrin.

From a larger perspective, treatment of infected animals and people along with judicious use of insecticide has the potential to reduce the burden of infection in endemic areas. This approach is being tried in several regions with mixed success. There is no vaccine that is currently approved for human use, but research in this area is ongoing.

Where can people get more information about leishmaniasis?

Medically reviewed by Robert Cox, MD; American Board of Internal Medicine with subspecialty in Infectious Disease


Amato, V.S., F.F. Tuon, A.M. Siqueira, A.C. Nicodemo, and V.A. Neto. "Treatment of Mucosal Leishmaniasis in Latin America: Systematic Review." Am J Trop Med Hyg. 77 (2007): 266-274.

Daneshbod, Y., A. Oryan, M. Davarmanesh, S. Shirian, S. Negahban, A. Aledavood, M.A. Davarpanah, H. Soleimanpoor, and K. Daneshbod. "Clinical, Histopathologic, and Cytologic Diagnosis of Mucosal Leishmaniasis and Literature Review." Arch Pathol Lab Med. 135 (2011): 478-482.

Desjeux, P. "Prevention of Leishmania donovani Infection." BMJ. 341 Dec. 29, 2010: c6751.

García, A.L., R. Parrado, E. Rojas, R. Delgado, J.C. Dujardin, and R. Reithinger. "Leishmaniases in Bolivia: Comprehensive Review and Current Status." Am J Trop Med Hyg. 80 (2009): 704-711.

Scott, P. "Leishmania -- a Parasitized Parasite." N Engl J Med. 364 (2011): 1773-1774.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/18/2015

Subscribe to MedicineNet's Newsletters

Get the latest health and medical information delivered direct to your inbox!

By clicking Submit, I agree to the MedicineNet's Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet's subscriptions at any time.

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors