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New World cutaneous leishmaniasis in Child
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New World cutaneous leishmaniasis in Child

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Contributors: Edith Lederman MD, Belinda Tan MD, PhD, Noah Craft MD, PhD
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New World cutaneous leishmaniasis (NWCL), also known as American cutaneous leishmaniasis, chiclero ulcer, forest yaws, bush yaws, uta, and pian bois, is endemic in some parts of Mexico, Central America, and South America, from northern Argentina to south-central Texas, typically in rural areas. It is not endemic in Uruguay, Chile, or Canada.

Cutaneous leishmaniasis results from infection of the skin with obligate intracellular parasites of the Leishmania genus. The parasites are transmitted by the bite of infected female phlebotomine sandflies (species in the Lutzomyia genus in the New World and in the Phlebotomus genus in the Old World). The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 1.5 million new cases of cutaneous leishmaniasis occur each year. Over 90% of the cases occur in the following countries:

Old World
Afghanistan, Algeria, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Syria.

New World
Brazil and Peru.

However, the geographic areas of acquisition of infection for cases evaluated in the developed world reflect travel and immigration patterns.

NWCL typically is a zoonotic disease with various mammalian reservoir hosts. Humans are incidental hosts of infection. The most common leishmanial species that cause NWCL include those in the Leishmania mexicana complex (eg, L. mexicana, Leishmania amazonensis) and the Viannia subgenus; for example, Leishmania (V.) braziliensis, Leishmania (V.) panamensis, Leishmania (V.) guyanensis. The organisms in the Viannia subgenus and L. amazonensis may disseminate from the skin to the naso-oropharyngeal mucosa (ie, cause mucosal leishmaniasis).

The appearance and evolution over time of the skin lesions of NWCL can vary widely. Typically, the primary lesions are noted several weeks to months after the sandfly exposure and evolve thereafter, over weeks to months, from papular, to nodular, to ulcerative. Some lesions persist as nodules or plaques. Ultimately, over months to years, lesions may heal without therapy, leaving hypopigmented, atrophic scars. Lymphangitis that ascends the lymphatic chain and lymphadenopathy (sometimes bubonic) can be seen; the latter may precede the presence of skin lesions. Pruritus, pain, and bacterial superinfection may also be present. Systemic symptoms are rarely seen. Ultimately, over months to years, lesions may heal without therapy, leaving hypopigmented, atrophic scars. Reactivation of infection, typically first noted at the margins of scars, can occur months, sometimes years, after clinical resolutions of lesions.

Diffuse cutaneous leishmaniasis (DCL) is a rare variant caused by L. mexicana. It occurs in the context of leishmanial-specific anergy and is manifested by disseminated, nonulcerated lesions.


B55.1 – Cutaneous leishmaniasis

39625001 – Mucocutaneous leishmaniasis

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Last Updated: 10/02/2017
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New World cutaneous leishmaniasis in Child
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New World cutaneous leishmaniasis : Erythema, Eschar, Lymphadenopathy, Mexico and Central America, Skin ulcer, Smooth nodule, South America, Sandfly exposure
Clinical image of New World cutaneous leishmaniasis
Close-up of a dull pink, scaly plaque with a central crusted ulcer.
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