Leishmaniasis - Cause and Transmission

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If known, what was the cause of your leishmaniasis, or how was it transmitted?

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What causes leishmaniasis? How is leishmaniasis transmitted?

Leishmaniasis is caused by protozoal parasites from the Leishmania species. The organisms are microscopic in size. There are about 21 species of Leishmania that affect humans, including the L. donovani complex and the L. Mexicana complex, among others. The life cycle is relatively simple. When the sand fly bites a human, it injects small numbers of parasites which are rapidly taken up by mononuclear blood cells. This stage is called the promastigote stage. Once inside the human mononuclear cells, the parasite enters the amastigote stage and begins to multiply and infect other cells and tissues. Uninfected sand flies acquire the parasite by feeding on infected people or infected animals such as dogs, foxes, or rodents.

Figure 2: Life cycle of Leishmania
Figure 2: Life cycle of Leishmania

Less commonly, parasites may be transmitted by blood transfusion or through drug users sharing contaminated needles. Leishmania may also be transmitted from a pregnant mother to her fetus.

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Comment from: Army Girl, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: August 14

I contracted it from a sand fly in Iraq in 2004 while serving with the U.S. Army.

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