Congenital Kala-Azar and Leishmaniasis in the Placenta

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  • Departments of Pathology and Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Leishmaniasis Research Group, and Sudan MRC, Medecins sans Frontieres, Khartoum, Sudan
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During an epidemic of visceral leishmaniasis in the Sudan, two cases of congenital kala-azar were seen. The first child, whose mother had contracted kala-azar in southern Sudan, was born in Khartoum, where no transmission of leishmaniasis is currently occurring. At seven months, the child had fever, lymphadenopathy, and hepatosplenom-egaly; leishmania parasites were detected in the bone marrow. The child died and an autopsy showed leishmania parasites in all tissues including the lungs, kidneys, and thymus. In the second case, parasites were found in the placenta of a five-month-old fetus. These two cases demonstrate the importance of followup of infants born to mothers with leishmaniasis.