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Leishmaniasis: contagion, symptoms and treatment

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

Leishmaniasis , or leishmaniasis , is a very common disease in countries with tropical climates and is considered one of the six most important conditions due to its high number of deaths and the increase in reported cases per year.

There are several parasites that can cause the development of this disease and depending on the species, leishmaniasis can manifest itself in two ways according to the place it affects, cutaneous leishmaniasis, which can spread to the mucosa, and visceral leishmaniasis, the more complicated condition and with fatal result if it is not intervened in time. Due to the serious consequences that this condition entails, it is important that you know how to identify it and that it is possible to combat it if you act in time. For this reason, in this FastlyHealarticle we want you to know everything related to leishmaniasis: contagion, symptoms and treatment .

Leishmaniasis contagion

The cause of this disease can be any parasite belonging to the genus Leishmania and it manages to enter the body through the bite of an insect that feeds on blood, mainly of two genera, the Lutzomya in America and the Phlebotomus in Europe, Asia and Africa.

When the insect feeds on infected blood, the parasite remains protected in its system, without harming it, until it returns to feeding on a healthy person and is injected at the time of the bite, changing its shape and developing the disease.

Although the organism is generally transmitted from one host to another through a carrier insect, there are also records of cases of leishmaniasis due to venereal infection , blood transfusion, and transmission through the placenta. In addition, it has been observed that in places where the carrier insect is not so common, the parasite can use ticks or canine fleas; Since, in addition to humans, it is possible that it infects other animals, such as dogs, rodents and marsupials.

Symptoms of leishmaniasis

After acquiring the parasite through the carrier mosquito, it may take weeks, or even a year, for an ulcer to appear at the site of the bite. On the other hand, the symptoms observed will depend on the type of leishmania involved and the area of ​​the body that it affects. There are two ways to do this:

  • Cutaneous leishmaniasis : it is characterized by the presence of multiple ulcers and nodules on the skin, mainly on the face and arms. In advanced cases they can spread to the nasal mucosa, the mouth, pharynx, larynx, trachea or the nasal septum, seriously damaging them. It is accompanied by some symptoms such as nasal congestion , increased blood supply to the nose and swelling, difficulty in breathing and eating, excessive itching in the affected area, nosebleeds and rhinorrhea.
  • Visceral Leishmaniasis : It is the most serious form of the disease . Initially there is fever, diarrhea, cough, vomiting, fatigue, and sudden weight loss. As leishmaniasis progresses, anemia occurs, inflammation of the lymph nodes or internal organs, such as the spleen and liver. There may also be tachycardia, bleeding, alopecia, jaundice, bruising and red lesions, abdominal tear, and fluid accumulation in the peritoneal area.

Treatments to combat leishmaniasis

It is important that you see your doctor before any sign of leishmaniasis, especially if the place where you live has frequent cases of this condition. The way in which this disease should be treated will be indicated only by the doctor when identifying the type of leishmania parasite that you present, in addition to your state of health and if you suffer from any other disorder.

Lesions caused by leishmaniasis are usually resistant to treatment , so their healing is delayed. Your doctor may prescribe one of these options:

  • Physical therapy healing : can be practiced to support drug treatment of small lesions. The most used is thermotherapy, which consists of applying a level of heat, by different methods, to the damaged area. There are records in which improvement of the lesions is observed in one session, but care must be taken to avoid burns. Likewise, cryotherapy is widely used and contrary to the previous technique, it is based on the application of cold on the affected area. Remember that only a specialist can recommend the method that best suits your condition, do not do one without consulting him or without his supervision, also take into account the contraindications and possible side effects if you apply it incorrectly.
  • Surgery : by itself it does not represent a solution for leishmaniasis , rather it is used to remove small lesions or remove the inflamed spleen when the condition does not improve. It can also be used later to rebuild skin or areas deformed by ulcers.
  • Drug use : Pentavalent antimonial drugs are helpful in fighting leishmaniasis and are generally sufficient to treat it. However, when the condition does not improve due to the resistance of the parasite, stronger drugs can be used, mainly amphotericin B, also in its liposomal or deoxycholate form, others frequently used are alupurinol, miltefosine and pentamidine.

Medications are usually administered intravenously or intramuscularly. The dose will depend on the degree of progression of the disease, the type of parasite, the weight of the patient and their general health. Be careful with the applied dose of certain medications due to their high toxicity and side effects, such as nausea, headaches, lethargy, vomiting, muscle aches, among others. In addition, they are contraindicated in people suffering from severe kidney , liver or pancreatic failure , heart problems or pulmonary tuberculosis.

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Leishmaniasis: contagion, symptoms and treatment , we recommend that you enter our Skin, hair and nails category .

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