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War Related Illness and Injury Study Center

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Leishmaniasis is currently found in about 88 countries. The disease most commonly occurs in regions with tropical, subtropical, and temperate climates including the Middle East, parts of Central and South America, Asia, Africa, and southern Europe.

There are several different forms of leishmaniasis. There are two major types of leishmaniasis: cutaneous and visceral. Cutaneous leishmaniasis causes skin sores. Visceral leishmaniasis affects the internal organs such as the spleen, liver and bone marrow. People with visceral leishmaniasis usually have fever, weight loss and an enlarged spleen and liver.

In some instances, skin sores from cutaneous leishmaniasis will heal on their own. However, it is best to talk to your doctor about treatment options since untreated leishmaniasis can result in complications. For visceral leishmaniasis, it is important to get treatment promptly since it can cause organ damage.

The best way to prevent the disease is to protect yourself from sand fly bites by

  • Wearing protective clothing
  • Using insect repellants


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