Situation and trends
The leishmaniases are a group of diseases caused by the protozoa parasite Leishmania. Over 20 Leishmania species known to be infective to humans are transmitted by the bite of infected female phlebotomine sandflies. There are three main types of leishmaniasis: i) visceral, often known as kala-azar and the most serious form of the disease (VL); ii) cutaneous, the most common (CL); and iii) mucocutaneous.
The disease mainly affects poor people in Africa, Asia and Latin America, and is associated with malnutrition, population displacement, poor housing, weak immune system and lack of resources. Ninety-seven (97) countries and territories are endemic for leishmaniasis and 4 countries have previously reported cases.
Since 2013, the Global Leishmaniasis programme is reporting separately the number of autochthonous cases, to monitor the trends in incidence, and the number of imported cases.
In 2015, almost 90% (88.8%) of global VL cases were reported from six countries: Brazil, Ethiopia, India, Somalia South Sudan and Sudan. The 10 countries with the highest number of cases reported in 2015 (as of 22/11/2016) are: Afghanistan, Algeria, Brazil, Colombia, Iran, Iraq, Peru, the Syrian Arab Republic, Tunisia and Yemen which together account for 90% of global reported CL incidence. In 2015, the number of imported cases of cutaneous leishmaniasis was particularly high in Lebanon (1393) and the Islamic Republic of Iran (908). The number of imported cases of visceral leishmaniasis was a lot lower, with the highest number of imported cases in Nepal (24 cases).