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      Complexities of Assessing the Disease Burden Attributable to Leishmaniasis

      1 , * , 2 , 3

      PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases

      Public Library of Science

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          Abstract

          Among parasitic diseases, morbidity and mortality caused by leishmaniasis are surpassed only by malaria and lymphatic filariasis. However, estimation of the leishmaniasis disease burden is challenging, due to clinical and epidemiological diversity, marked geographic clustering, and lack of reliable data on incidence, duration, and impact of the various disease syndromes. Non-health effects such as impoverishment, disfigurement, and stigma add to the burden, and introduce further complexities. Leishmaniasis occurs globally, but has disproportionate impact in the Horn of Africa, South Asia and Brazil (for visceral leishmaniasis), and Latin America, Central Asia, and southwestern Asia (for cutaneous leishmaniasis). Disease characteristics and challenges for control are reviewed for each of these foci. We recommend review of reliable secondary data sources and collection of baseline active survey data to improve current disease burden estimates, plus the improvement or establishment of effective surveillance systems to monitor the impact of control efforts.

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          Most cited references 116

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          Leishmaniasis: current situation and new perspectives.

           P Desjeux (2004)
          Leishmaniasis represents a complex of diseases with an important clinical and epidemiological diversity. Visceral leishmaniasis (VL) is of higher priority than cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL) as it is a fatal disease in the absence of treatment. Anthroponotic VL foci are of special concern as they are at the origin of frequent and deathly epidemics (e.g. Sudan). Leishmaniasis burden remains important: 88 countries, 350 million people at risk, 500,000 new cases of VL per year, 1-1.5 million for CL and DALYs: 2.4 millions. Most of the burden is concentrated on few countries which allows clear geographic priorities. Leishmaniasis is still an important public health problem due to not only environmental risk factors such as massive migrations, urbanisation, deforestation, new irrigation schemes, but also to individual risk factors: HIV, malnutrition, genetic, etc em leader Leishmaniasis is part of those diseases which still requires improved control tools. Consequently WHO/TDR research for leishmaniasis has been more and more focusing on the development of new tools such as diagnostic tests, drugs and vaccines. The ongoing effort has already produced significant results. The newly available control tools should allow a scaling up of control activities in priority areas. In anthroponotic foci, the feasibility of getting a strong impact on mortality, morbidity and transmission, is high.
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            Cutaneous leishmaniasis.

            Cutaneous leishmaniasis is endemic in the tropics and neotropics. It is often referred to as a group of diseases because of the varied spectrum of clinical manifestations, which range from small cutaneous nodules to gross mucosal tissue destruction. Cutaneous leishmaniasis can be caused by several Leishmania spp and is transmitted to human beings and animals by sandflies. Despite its increasing worldwide incidence, but because it is rarely fatal, cutaneous leishmaniasis has become one of the so-called neglected diseases, with little interest by financial donors, public-health authorities, and professionals to implement activities to research, prevent, or control the disease. In endemic countries, diagnosis is often made clinically and, if possible, by microscopic examination of lesion biopsy smears to visually confirm leishmania parasites as the cause. The use of more sophisticated diagnostic techniques that allow for species identification is usually restricted to research or clinical settings in non-endemic countries. The mainstays of cutaneous leishmaniasis treatment are pentavalent antimonials, with new oral and topical treatment alternatives only becoming available within the past few years; a vaccine currently does not exist. Disease prevention and control are difficult because of the complexity of cutaneous leishmaniasis epizoology, and the few options available for effective vector control.
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              Effects of environmental change on emerging parasitic diseases.

              Ecological disturbances exert an influence on the emergence and proliferation of malaria and zoonotic parasitic diseases, including, Leishmaniasis, cryptosporidiosis, giardiasis, trypanosomiasis, schistosomiasis, filariasis, onchocerciasis, and loiasis. Each environmental change, whether occurring as a natural phenomenon or through human intervention, changes the ecological balance and context within which disease hosts or vectors and parasites breed, develop, and transmit disease. Each species occupies a particular ecological niche and vector species sub-populations are distinct behaviourally and genetically as they adapt to man-made environments. Most zoonotic parasites display three distinct life cycles: sylvatic, zoonotic, and anthroponotic. In adapting to changed environmental conditions, including reduced non-human population and increased human population, some vectors display conversion from a primarily zoophyllic to primarily anthrophyllic orientation. Deforestation and ensuing changes in landuse, human settlement, commercial development, road construction, water control systems (dams, canals, irrigation systems, reservoirs), and climate, singly, and in combination have been accompanied by global increases in morbidity and mortality from emergent parasitic disease. The replacement of forests with crop farming, ranching, and raising small animals can create supportive habitats for parasites and their host vectors. When the land use of deforested areas changes, the pattern of human settlement is altered and habitat fragmentation may provide opportunities for exchange and transmission of parasites to the heretofore uninfected humans. Construction of water control projects can lead to shifts in such vector populations as snails and mosquitoes and their parasites. Construction of roads in previously inaccessible forested areas can lead to erosion, and stagnant ponds by blocking the flow of streams when the water rises during the rainy season. The combined effects of environmentally detrimental changes in local land use and alterations in global climate disrupt the natural ecosystem and can increase the risk of transmission of parasitic diseases to the human population.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Role: Editor
                Journal
                PLoS Negl Trop Dis
                plos
                plosntds
                PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
                1935-2727
                1935-2735
                October 2008
                29 October 2008
                : 2
                : 10
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Division of Parasitic Diseases, National Center for Zoonotic, Vector-Borne and Enteric Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, United States of America
                [2 ]Harvard Medical School and Division of Infectious Disease, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America
                [3 ]Department for the Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases (HTM/NTD/IDM), Leishmaniasis Control Program, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland
                London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, United Kingdom
                Author notes
                Article
                08-PNTD-RV-0083R3
                10.1371/journal.pntd.0000313
                2569207
                18958165
                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Public Domain declaration which stipulates that, once placed in the public domain, this work may be freely reproduced, distributed, transmitted, modified, built upon, or otherwise used by anyone for any lawful purpose.
                Page count
                Pages: 8
                Categories
                Review
                Public Health and Epidemiology/Infectious Diseases
                Public Health and Epidemiology/Epidemiology

                Infectious disease & Microbiology

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