Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Leishmaniasis, named after Scottish Pathologist William Leishman, is a protozoan parasitic infection which causes skin sores, fever, liver and spleen damage. It is the second most common protozoal infection after Malaria and is responsible for 500,000 deaths each year, primarily in third world countries.

The disease is spread by the female phlebotomine sand fly who injects the leishmania parasite into the body of the host. The disease suppresses the immune system allowing secondary infections such as HIV, TB and Malaria to flare up to the point of fatality.

From the time of infection, Leishmaniasis takes about 12-16 weeks to run its course. Even if the patient fights off the primary infection, Leishmaniasis can reemerge from weeks to years later with new and devestating symptoms. This secondary infection is called post kala-azar dermal leishmaniasis (PKDL.) PKDL starts out as a small-pox style rash which quickly spreads over the entire body with the pox gradually increasing in size. PKDL can cause intense scarring and even blindness.

Typical treatment for Leishmaniasis are a class of drugs known as antimonials. Antimony (Sb on the periodic table) is also used in flame-proofing, paints, ceramics, enamels, a wide variety of alloys, electronics, and rubber. Sub variations of Leishmaniasis have become resistant to Antimony treatment. These resistant strains are treated with Amphotericin B.

Since this sick kills so many each year and has hideous physical manifestations I rate it a
5 on my "lethality scale" (1-10)
and a 4 on my "disturbing scale" (1-10)

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