Communicable Diseases



  • A parasitic infection, transmitted through the bites of sand flies infected with the parasite.
  • There are different types of Leishmaniasis, but the most common are cutaneous and visceral types.
  • Leishmaniasis is treated according to the doctor’s instructions appropriate to the condition.
  • There are no vaccines to prevent infection, but there are guidelines and methods to prevent infection.
Definition of the disease:
Leishmaniasis is a parasitic infection transmitted through the bites of sand flies infected with the parasite. These flies are active in the evening, twilight, and night hours, that is, from sunset until dawn, and they are more widespread in rural areas. The total number of cutaneous leishmaniasis cases recorded in various regions of the Kingdom during the year 2022 reached (528) cases, with an infection rate of (1.6) per 100,000 population.

Types of Leishmania:
Cutaneous Leishmaniasis:
A polymorphic disease of the skin and mucous membranes caused by parasites belonging to the genus Flagellates. There are several types of Leishmaniasis in the world that differ according to the type of causative parasite, which are:
  • L.aethiopica
  • L.brazilliensis
  • L. major
  • L. mexicana
  • L.tropica
The disease usually begins with a painless nodular lesion and then becomes enlarged and ulcerated. Cutaneous leishmaniasis is called by different names, such as the Habbat Elsharq, Habbat Baghdad, and Habbat Delhi, or locally by the name of Al-Abdah, Al-Ukht, Mistakwia, Al-Mutafera, and other names.

There are two types of cutaneous leishmaniasis in the Kingdom:
  • Cutaneous leishmaniasis for rural areas:
It is caused by a parasite (L. major). This type of disease mainly affects wild rats, from which it is transmitted to humans by the female sand fly.
  • ​Urban cutaneous leishmaniasis:
This type of disease is caused by a parasite (L. tropica). It is often transmitted from a sick person to a healthy person by a female sand fly, without animals playing a major role in the disease transmission cycle.
Usually, exposed parts of the body, such as the face and peripheries, are susceptible to infection, and after an incubation period that extends from several days to several months, symptoms of the disease begin to appear.
As for the other types, no cases have been recorded in the Kingdom.

Cutaneous leishmaniasis: Some people infected with it may not show symptoms or signs, but some of them may suffer from one or more ulcers on the skin. The shape or size of the ulcer may change over time until an ulcer is formed with raised, crater-shaped edges. These ulcers are usually painless, but they may become painful. Some of them may have swollen lymph nodes, depending on the area where the ulcer is located.

When to see a doctor?
When noticing previous symptoms, living in, or traveling to countries where the disease has been found.

Cutaneous leishmaniasis:
  • Bleeding, or deformities.
  • Other infections, due to a weak immune system, which can be life-threatening.
Leishmaniasis is diagnosed by taking the necessary measures by the doctor. The doctor may take a biopsy from skin sores; For examination in the case of cutaneous leishmaniasis, or samples from the spinal cord in the case of visceral leishmaniasis; To examine it under a microscope. Blood tests may also be performed; To detect antibodies (immune response) to the parasite in the case of visceral leishmaniasis.

Leishmaniasis is treated according to the doctor's instructions appropriate to the condition. The ulcers in cutaneous leishmaniasis often heal without treatment, but they cause unsightly scars. In the case of severe visceral leishmaniasis infection, if left untreated it can become fatal.

There are no vaccines or medications to prevent Leishmania infection. The best way for travelers to prevent contracting the disease is to protect themselves from sand fly bites; reduce the risk of exposure to bites, be sure to follow the following preventive measures:
  • Avoid outdoor activities, especially from dusk to dawn, as sand flies are generally most active.
  • Avoid sleeping outdoors near farms, animal shelters, and rat holes; To avoid exposure to injury.
  • When outdoors, or in unprotected places, the body must be covered; To avoid injury.
  • Use a mosquito net when sleeping.
  • Wear socks and long-sleeved clothes.
  • Use insect repellent on exposed skin.
  • Follow the directions on the repellent label.

Last Update : 12 October 2023 02:47 PM
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