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Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases

Pathogen of the Month


April Pathogen of the Month:




What is it?   Leishmaniasis-affected Leg

The World Health organization describes leishmaniasis as a disease caused by the protozoan Leishmania parasites transmitted by the bite of infected female phlebotomine sandflies. There are three main forms of leishmaniases – visceral (also known as kala-azar and the most severe form of the disease), cutaneous and mucocutaneous, the most common. The disease affects some of the poorest people on earth, and is associated with malnutrition, population displacement, poor housing, a weak immune system and lack of financial resources.    

What causes its spread?

Leishmaniasis is linked to environmental changes that disturb the ecosystem of the sandfly vectors such as deforestation, building of dams, irrigation schemes, and urbanization.

  Leishmaniasis Map

How widespread is it?

 The WHO estimates that 700,000 to 1 million new cases occur annually, with between 20,000 and 30,000 deaths worldwide.


Have outbreaks occurred recently?

Yes. In March, a medical organization documented about 35,000 cases of infection with leishmaniasis in northern and central Syria. Last year, about 70 cases of visceral leishmaniasis, also known as the black fever, were diagnosed in Syria.

What is CEEZAD doing about it?

The March 2018 edition of the American Journal of Tropical Medical Hygiene included an article co-written by Dr. Jean Paul Gonzalez, CEEZAD’s deputy director, on the causes of leishmaniasis infection in Libya. In the paper’s abstract, the article’s authors report on findings from their screening of sandflies for leishmanial DNA.


Sources: OIE, WHO, CMAJ, Pasteur Institute, Libyan National Center For Disease Control, University of Sabratha, University of Tripoli.