The Distribution of American Leishmaniasis in Relation to That of Phlebotomus

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  • Department of Tropical Medicine of the Harvard School of Public Health


Circumstantial evidence indicates that American leishmaniasis is transmitted by a winged, biting insect which lives among trees or shrubs.

As a result of experimental work, most of which has been conducted in the Eastern Hemisphere, it seems highly probable that all forms of leishmaniasis are transmitted usually by the bites of certain species of Phlebotomus. Should this hypothesis prove true, it is still possible that the disease may be transmitted occasionally by other vectors, and that ulcerating forms may sometimes be conveyed by direct contact, or even indirectly by contact with infected material.

In nearly all parts of the Western Hemisphere from which supposedly indigenous cases of leishmaniasis have been reported, one or more species of Phlebotomus which bite man are known to occur. Further search should be made for Phlebotomus in certain regions from which it has not been reported but in which leishmaniasis is indigenous. Further studies should also be made of the bionomics of American species of Phlebotomus which bite man.