Leishmaniasis risk factors

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Alejandro Lemor, M.D. [2]


People of all ages are at risk for leishmaniasis if they live or travel where leishmaniasis is found. Leishmaniasis usually is more common in rural than urban areas; but it is found in the outskirts of some cities. The risk for leishmaniasis is highest from dusk to dawn because this is when sand flies are the most active. All it takes to get infected is to be bitten by one infected sand fly. This is more likely to happen the more people are bitten, that is, the more time they spend outside in rural areas from dusk to dawn. Adventure travelers, Peace Corps volunteers, missionaries, ornithologists (people who study birds), other people who do research outdoors at night, and soldiers are examples of people who may have an increased risk for leishmaniasis (especially cutaneous leishmaniasis).

Riks Factors

Risk Factors Description
Socioeconomic Factors The risk of leishmaniasis is increased by poverty. Sandfly breeding is increased by poor waste management and sanitary conditions
Malnutrition Malnutrition is a risk factor for complications and for the disease progressing to kala-azar. Protein deficit, as well as a lack of iron, zinc and vitamin A in the diet, increased the risk.
Exposed population Migration to an area of endemic illness, occupational exposure
Environmental Factors Urbanization and changes in the transmission cycle may increase the risk of infection.
Climate Temperature and precipitation affects the vectors and may also affect the life cycle of the Leishmania, making transmission more common.
Adapted from WHO [1]


  1. "WHO Leishmaniasis Fact Sheet N. 375 - Updated January 2014".

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