Visceral leishmaniasis (VL) is the most severe form of leishmaniasis. It is endemic in tropical and subtropical countries and responsible for about 50,000 deaths annually. It is characterized by irregular fever, progressive pallor, spleen and liver growth, and consequent increase in abdominal volume, lymphadenopathy, anorexia, and weight loss. Some changes in epidermal structures can be observed such as dry, brittle and depigmented hair, while the eyelashes are long and silky, pale skin, and as the disease progresses may arise petechiae, ecchymosis, hemorrhagic suffusion, and sometimes jaundice. Edema appears very often, mainly in lower limbs. Hematologic changes are manifested by the reduction of all blood cells. Hypoalbuminemia is a frequent finding, while globulin increases. The patient suspected of having the disease is the one who has fever and splenomegaly. It is valuable to the diagnosis of epidemiological data, history of irregular fever, hepatomegaly, splenomegaly, and blood disorders such as pancytopenia and hypoalbuminemia. In the course of the disease, bacterial infections are established, especially in the respiratory tract, sometimes responsible for the death. VL is a consumptive disease that requires specific treatment as early as possible.
Part of the book: The Epidemiology and Ecology of Leishmaniasis