Leishmaniasis (cont.)

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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.

Garca, 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

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