Distribution and Etiology of Leishmaniasis in Colombia

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  • Instituto Nacional de Salud, Ministerio de Salud, Youngstown State University, Yale University School of Medicine, University of Florida, Bogota, Colombia
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A total of 340 Leishmania strains, isolated from humans, animals, and sand flies from various regions of Colombia, were examined by isozyme electrophoresis. Seven different Leishmania species were identified. Leishmania panamensis and L. braziliensis were the most common, representing 53.8% and 30.3% of the total, respectively. Isolation rates of the other species were as follows: L. chagasi, 9.4%; L. guyanensis, 2.6%; L. amazonensis, 1.8%; L. mexicana, 0.8%; and a new species requiring additional study, 1.2%. Statistical analyses of representative L. panamensis and L. braziliensis isolates indicated that the populations of these 2 species are genetically very similar. L. panamensis may have a continuous distribution in Colombia west of the eastern Andes Mountains and L. braziliensis may have a continuous distribution east of the western Andes Mountains. Information is given on disease manifestations of the parasites in human hosts and on isolation records from sand flies and animals.

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