Leishmaniasis Like Disease

A sample taken from a patient with Leishmaniasis.

Photo Credit: CDC

A sample taken from a patient with Leishmaniasis.

Moesha Aplicano-Burnham, reporter

With the fear of the Coronavirus spreading, a new disease being discovered is the last thing most people want to be hearing on the news, unfortunately, that’s exactly what’s happened. In Brazil there have been cases of an  unknown parasitic disease.

This newfound infection behaves a lot like Leishmaniasis, a parasitic infection caused by a parasite called Leishmania. Leishmania are parasites that infect female sandflies, which then bite humans and further spreads the parasites. Humans can then spread it to other humans as a blood borne infection. 

There are two different kinds of this parasitic infection. One of them being Cutaneous Leishmaniasis, which causes ulcers in the skin and nose, causing difficulty breathing, bloody noses, and other respiratory ailments. The second type of this disease is Visceral Leishmaniasis, which is more dangerous and presents itself in a completely different way. Symptoms can include weight loss, fever, skin lesions, and swollen lymph nodes. Visceral Leishmaniasis causes harm to internal organs such as the liver, causing it to potentially be lethal if left untreated. 

Leishmaniasis can be cured by using certain medications and treatments. Most commonly used are antiparasitic drugs.

While the infection is considered relatively new, the first reported case was in 2011. A 64-year-old man passed away with the same symptoms as Visceral Leishmaniasis, one of the only differences being that the lesions on the patient’s skin were larger and less defined than in normal Visceral Leishmaniasis cases. When the typical Leishmania treatments were used, they had no effect on the unknown disease ultimately leading to the patient’s death.

The unknown Leishmaniasis like disease is speculated to be spread by mosquitoes, much like Malaria.  Several steps are still needed to be taken to solve this potentially deadly issue. In order to develop an effective treatment of the mystery disease, much more information needs to be tested and researched. As of now, very little is known about the disease or parasite, so developing an effective treatment has proven to be difficult.