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Travel Health Advice - Leishmaniasis


What is it? A parasitic infection in two forms: Cutaneous and mucosal leishmaniasis (espundia) produces sores and ulcers in the mucous membranes. Without treatment the disease is disabling and mutilating. Visceral leishmaniasis (kala-azar) attacks the bone marrow, liver, spleen, lymph nodes and other internal organs; fatal if untreated. How is it transmitted? Sand flies. Also contaminated blood supply. Where is it present? Over 90% of visceral leishmaniasis cases come from Bangladesh, Brazil, India, Nepal and Sudan. Over 90% of cutaneous leishmaniasis cases occur in Afghanistan, Algeria, Brazil, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Saudi Arabia and the Syrian Arab Republic. Level of risk? Generally low. What can I do to prevent getting it? Avoid sand fly bites after sunset. Treatment? Drugs with antimony-containing compounds; plastic surgery in the case of destructive facial lesions.

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