Indigenous Human Cutaneous Leishmaniasis caused by Leishmania tropica in Kenya

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  • * Biomedical Sciences Research Centre
  • | Medical Research Center, Kenya Medical Research Institute, Nairobi, Kenya
  • | Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Washington, DC

Six Leishmania isolates from 3 indigenous Kenyans (2 isolates from one patient) and 2 Canadian visitors in Kenya were characterized by cellulose acetate electrophoresis. The isolates were compared among themselves and with reference strains of Leishmania donovani, L. aethiopica, L. major, L. tropica, and L. arabica using 9 enzymes: malate dehydrogenase (MDH), malic enzyme (ME), phosphogluconate dehydrogenase (6PGD), glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD), aspartate aminotransferase (ASAT), adenylate kinase (AK), mannose phosphate isomerase (MPI), glucose phosphate isomerase (GPI), and phosphoglucomutase (PGM). Enzyme migration patterns of isolates from the 3 indigenous Kenyans were indistinguishable from those of 2 L. tropica reference strains. The isolates from the 2 Canadians yielded migration patterns of 7 enzymes that were indistinguishable from those of 2 L. tropica reference strains. However, migration patterns of 2 enzymes, PGM and ME, differed from all migration patterns of the 10 reference strains. Balb/c mice were inoculated with stationary phase promastigotes cultured from 3 stabilates from the lesions of 2 of the Kenyan patients. The mice developed no gross pathological lesions in 6 months time.

All of the study patients developed cutaneous leishmaniasis while living in or visiting districts in Central and Rift Valley Provinces, Kenya. This is the first report of human cutaneous leishmaniasis caused by L. tropica indigenous to Africa south of the Sahara.

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