These tiny, quiet, dusk to dawn active, infectious flies are primarily found in tropic and subtropic regions, notably in the Middle East, Central and South America, Asia, Africa and southern Europe.
There are several forms of leishmaniasis, most common being:
- cutaneous leishmaniasis ~ causes skin sores
- visceral leishmaniasis ~ affects internal organs such as your spleen, liver, bone marrow
The main symptom for cutaneous leishmaniasis is the skin lesion sore. These sores may:
- be covered by a scab
- be painless or painful
- cause nearby lymph nodes to swell
- look like a volcano ~ raised edge with a cratered ulcer
A lesion can develop anywhere from a few weeks or months after your infected sand fly bite.
Symptoms for visceral leishmaniasis usually include:
- weight loss
- enlarged spleen
- low blood counts ~ anemia, low white cell count, low platelet count
You can be infected with leishmaniasis and not have any signs nor symptoms.
CDC recommends that you consult an infectious disease or tropical medicine specialist for treatment. Based on the severity and age of your skin lesions, treatment may include:
- freezing with liquid nitrogen
- pentavalent antimonials ~ treats all types of leishmaniasis
Without treatment, your skin lesions sores will usually heal on their own. This option can take years and leave you with ugly scars. And severe cases of visceral leishmaniasis can cause death.
The healthiest way to prevent leishmaniasis is to keep your exposed skin covered to stave off sand fly bites, especially at night. Don’t head out on your tropical adventure without your netting.