Epidemiology of imported cutaneous leishmaniasis at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases, London, United Kingdom: use of polymerase chain reaction to identify the species


Wall EC, Watson J, Armstrong M, Chiodini PL, Lockwood


This study reviewed all patients diagnosed with imported cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL) at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases in London, United Kingdom, over an 11-year period. Diagnostic and epidemiologic information was collected prospectively for all patients with imported CL to this hospital during 1998-2009. A total of 223 patients were given a diagnosis of CL. Ninety patients were diagnosed with Old World CL, which was caused most commonly by Leishmania donovani complex (n = 20). A total of 71% were tourists to the Mediterranean region, 36% were migrants or visiting friends and relatives, and 17% were soldiers. One hundred thirty-three patients were given a diagnosis of New World CL. The Leishmania subgenus Viannia caused 97 of these cases; 44% of these were in backpackers and 29% were in soldiers. Polymerase chain reaction was more sensitive and faster for detecting Leishmania DNA (86% for Old World CL and 96% for New World CL) than culture. This is the largest study of imported leishmaniasis, and demonstrates that tourists to the Mediterranean and backpackers in Central and South America are at risk for this disease.


American Journal of Tropical Medicine Hygiene