Disseminated leishmaniasis: a new and emerging form of leishmaniasis observed in northeastern Brazil

J Infect Dis. 2002 Dec 15;186(12):1829-34. doi: 10.1086/345772. Epub 2002 Nov 19.


During the past decade, there has been an increase in the number of patients with disseminated leishmaniasis (DL), which is characterized by a large number of acneiform and papular skin lesions, with very few or no parasites in the skin tissue. The present report describes 42 cases of DL identified between 1992 and 1998 in an area where Leishmania braziliensis transmission is endemic; 8 of the patients were prospectively diagnosed. In a contrast to localized cutaneous leishmaniasis (LCL), acquisition of DL was associated with age >19 years (P<.05), male sex (P<.05), and agricultural occupation (P<.001). Patients with DL presented with 10-300 lesions that were a mixture of acneiform, papular, nodular, and ulcerated types. Twelve (29%) of 42 patients had mucosal involvement. Patients with DL had lower levels of interferon-gamma (P<.05) and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (P<.05) production, compared with patients with LCL. DL is an emerging clinical distinct form of leishmaniasis associated with agricultural activities and host immunological response.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Agriculture
  • Animals
  • Brazil / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interferon-gamma / biosynthesis
  • Leishmania braziliensis*
  • Leishmaniasis, Diffuse Cutaneous / diagnosis
  • Leishmaniasis, Diffuse Cutaneous / epidemiology*
  • Leishmaniasis, Diffuse Cutaneous / immunology
  • Leishmaniasis, Mucocutaneous / diagnosis
  • Leishmaniasis, Mucocutaneous / epidemiology
  • Leishmaniasis, Mucocutaneous / immunology
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / metabolism
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mucous Membrane / pathology
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Skin / pathology
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / biosynthesis


  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Interferon-gamma