Author(s): Zijlstra EE, Musa AM, Khalil EA, elHassan IM, elHassan AM
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Abstract Post-kala-azar dermal leishmaniasis (PKDL) is a complication of visceral leishmaniasis (VL); it is characterised by a macular, maculopapular, and nodular rash in a patient who has recovered from VL and who is otherwise well. The rash usually starts around the mouth from where it spreads to other parts of the body depending on severity. It is mainly seen in Sudan and India where it follows treated VL in 50\% and 5-10\% of cases, respectively. Thus, it is largely restricted to areas where Leishmania donovani is the causative parasite. The interval at which PKDL follows VL is 0-6 months in Sudan and 2-3 years in India. PKDL probably has an important role in interepidemic periods of VL, acting as a reservoir for parasites. There is increasing evidence that the pathogenesis is largely immunologically mediated; high concentrations of interleukin 10 in the peripheral blood of VL patients predict the development of PKDL. During VL, interferon gamma is not produced by peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC). After treatment of VL, PBMC start producing interferon gamma, which coincides with the appearance of PKDL lesions due to interferon-gamma-producing cells causing skin inflammation as a reaction to persisting parasites in the skin. Diagnosis is mainly clinical, but parasites can be seen by microscopy in smears with limited sensitivity. PCR and monoclonal antibodies may detect parasites in more than 80\% of cases. Serological tests and the leishmanin skin test are of limited value. Treatment is always needed in Indian PKDL; in Sudan most cases will self cure but severe and chronic cases are treated. Sodium stibogluconate is given at 20 mg/kg for 2 months in Sudan and for 4 months in India. Liposomal amphotericine B seems effective; newer compounds such as miltefosine that can be administered orally or topically are of major potential interest. Although research has brought many new insights in pathogenesis and management of PKDL, several issues in particular in relation to control remain unsolved and deserve urgent attention.
This article was published in Lancet Infect Dis
and referenced in Journal of Tropical Diseases & Public Health