Jacobs Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology

Visceral Leishmaniasis; An Autobiography of the most important Vector-borne Disease

Published on: 2019-04-30


Visceral leishmaniasis, also known as kala-azar is undoubtedly one of the most important vector-borne diseases in the world. Visceral leishmaniasis (VL) affects the liver, spleen and the bone marrow of the human host. It is characterised by anemia (deficiency in the number or quality of red blood cells), fever, enlarged liver, enlarged spleen and significant weight loss. The disease is often fatal if left untreated. The disease, kala-azar, was first described in the mid18th century in Africa and India. William Leishman, a British Army doctor, identified ovoid bodies in a spleen sample from a British soldier who had been experiencing bouts of fever, anemia, muscle wasting and an enlarged spleen. He published his findings in 1903. Charles Donovan recognized these symptoms in other patients and also identified these same bodies. They were subsequently called Leishman-Donovan bodies after the two men [1].