Epidemiologic characterization of American cutaneous leishmaniasis in an endemic region of eastern Venezuela.

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  • 1 Centro de Investigaciones en Ciencias de la Salud, Instituto de Investigacíon y Desarrollo Anzoátegui, Escuela de Medicina, Universidad de Oriente, Núcleo Anzoátegui, Puerto la Cruz, Venezuela.

The status of American cutaneous leishmaniasis was investigated from 1985 to 1991 to provide an epidemiologic characterization of the disease in Bergantin, a rural community in the northeastern part of Anzoátegui State, Venezuela. The study revealed the presence of the infection during the period analyzed, with an average incidence of 50.2 cases per 10,000 inhabitants and this number has increased 1.5 times during the last two years. Three villages where clinical cases had been recorded were selected for a comparison of their prevalence data. These villages comprise the human population in the high and low altitude limits of Bergantin. Immunologic assessment of the inhabitants used two different antigen preparations to examine responses to parasites associated with the cutaneous and visceral forms of the disease. The leishmanin skin test (LST) was used in a sample of 276 individuals (46.3% of the inhabitants) and resulted in an overall positivity of 16.7%. The percentage of LST positivity varied with age and sex, yet analysis of this response and the prevalence for each village reflected the specific characteristics of these localities. La Montaña, situated at 800 meters above sea level, had the highest prevalence (800 cases per 10,000 inhabitants) and the most positive LST response (21.2%) in comparison with the two other villages situated at a lower altitude (300 meters above sea level).