September 10, 2009

Leishmaniasis Symptoms and Diagnosis

Posted in Category : Common Ailments

Leishmaniasis is a skin disease caused by the bite of an insect. Primarily caused by protozoa of the Leishmania species, this disease is transmitted by the bite of a particular species of sandfly.

Clinically, the disease is classified into three

  • Cutaneous leishmaniasis
  • Mucocutaneous leishmaniasis
  • Visceral leishmaniasis

The cutaneous leishmaniasis affects the outer skin of the body. The skin may break out in sores that look like the sores caused in tuberculosis, leprosy and syphilis. Sometimes, in more severe cases, the appearance of the skin is skin-cancer like. Ordinarily, the skin appears to have developed a fungal infection.

The mucocutaneous leishmaniasis affects the mucous membranes of the body. It is not unusual for ulcers to form on the mucous membranes. While the other two conditions affect certain parts of the body, visceral leishmaniasis may affect the entire body. Usually this condition is fatal owing to its many deadly complications. The immune system gets systematically damaged by the parasites involved in this condition.

Leishmaniasis symptoms:

In children the symptoms are:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Cough

In adults the symptoms are:

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Loss of Appetite

Symptoms of systemic visceral leishmaniasis:

  • Cough
  • Diarrhea
  • Persistent, cyclical fever
  • Breaking out in sweats at night
  • Ashen skin that is scaly and grayish in color
  • Rapidly thinning hair
  • Discomfort in the abdominal area
  • Continuous vomiting and nausea
  • Rapid weight loss.

Cutaneous leishmaniasis symptoms:

  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Macule and papules growth on skin
  • Skin ulcers that take a lot of time to heal
  • Satellite lesions around the ulcers
  • Nosebleeds
  • Difficulty in eating and swallowing
  • Erosion of tissues where there is a mucous membrane, like the mouth, gums, nose, lips, tongue and the inner parts of the nose.

Leishmaniasis diagnosis is made through a complete physical exam. There is biopsy of spleen, bone marrow, lymph nodes and skin. Blood tests are also conducted to check for the Hemoglobin and immunoglobulins

Treatment of leishmaniasis

This disorder cannot be treated with home remedies and should be treated only by a qualified medical practitioner. Medicines that contain antimony compounds are usually prescribed for this disorder.

If there is a lot of disfiguration due to the disease, plastic surgery may be required to correct the lesions and sores. In certain cases of visceral leishmaniasis, the spleen may have to be removed completely.