Clinical polymorphism of zoonotic cutaneous leishmaniasis: combination of the clinical and the parasitological diagnosis

Parasitol Res. 2024 Jun 10;123(6):238. doi: 10.1007/s00436-024-08263-5.


Zoonotic cutaneous leishmaniasis (ZCL) is a neglected tropical disease caused by Leishmania (L.) major. This zoonosis is characterized by a broad-spectrum clinical polymorphism and may be underestimated and poorly treated since it is a simulator of various dermatoses. The aim of our study was to analyze the clinical polymorphism of patients with ZCL. A total of 142 patients with confirmed CL based on the microscopic examination of skin lesion biopsies were included in this study. Molecular typing of Leishmania species revealed that all patients were infected with L. major. In total, 14 clinical forms were observed. Six were typical and eight were atypical. The typical ZCL forms are grouped as follows: papular (26.76%), ulcero-crusted (26.05%), ulcerated (13.38%), impetiginous (9.86%), nodular (9.15%), and papulo-nodular (5.63%) lesions. In atypical ZCL forms, we described erythematous (2.81%), erysipeloid (1.4%), sporotrichoid, (1.4%), keratotic (0.7%) lupoid (0.7%), lichenoid (0.7%), psoriasiform (0.7%), and zosteriform (0.7%) lesions. Here, the lichenoid and the keratotic forms caused by L. major were reported for the first time in Tunisia. These findings will help physicians to be aware of the unusual lesions of ZCL that could be confused with other dermatological diseases. For this reason, it will be necessary to improve the diagnosis of CL especially in endemic areas. Such large clinical polymorphism caused by L. major may be the result of a complex association between the vector microbiota, the parasite, and the host immune state, and further studies should be carried out in order to reveal the mechanisms involved in clinical polymorphism of ZCL.

Keywords: Atypical clinical forms; Clinical polymorphism; Keratotic form; Lichenoid form; ZCL.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leishmania major / genetics
  • Leishmania major / isolation & purification
  • Leishmaniasis, Cutaneous* / diagnosis
  • Leishmaniasis, Cutaneous* / parasitology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Skin / parasitology
  • Skin / pathology
  • Young Adult
  • Zoonoses* / diagnosis
  • Zoonoses* / parasitology