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An Pediatr (Barc). 2010 May;72(5):347-51. doi: 10.1016/j.anpedi.2009.12.020. Epub 2010 Apr 7.

[Visceral childhood leishmaniasis: diagnosis and treatment].

[Article in Spanish]

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Servicio de Pediatría, Hospital Universitario de Getafe, Getafe, Madrid, España.



Visceral leishmaniasis is endemic in Spain. New diagnostic tools and shorter regimens of treatment are been increasingly being used in children.


To analyze the clinical and epidemiological characteristics of cases of visceral leishmaniasis, to evaluate the diagnostic techniques tested and the safety and efficacy of treatments used.


We retrospectively reviewed the medical records of children diagnosed with visceral leishmaniasis between January 1994 and December 2007 in a tertiary public Hospital in the South of Madrid. The diagnosis of visceral leishmaniasis was based on visualization of Leishmania sp. in bone marrow aspirate or culture or positive PCR analysis of the bone marrow aspirate.


Eleven immunocompetent children were identified. Median age was 21 months (range: 4 months - 13 years). Fever was present in all cases, and hepatomegaly and splenomegaly in 10 (91%). Anemia was the most frequent haematological finding (100%). A bone marrow aspirate was obtained in all cases. Leishmania amastigotes were observed in 8 (73%) cases. Leishmania DNA in the bone marrow aspirate was detected in all patients who underwent this procedure. Positive immunofluorescent-antibody test (IFAT) analysis at baseline was observed in 63% of cases tested. The threshold titer for positivity was 1/40. Urinary antigen detection test was positive in 4 out of 6 (67%) children in whom I was performed. Initial treatment consisted of meglumine antimoniate in 3 patients and liposomal amphotericin B (LAB) in 8 (73%) patients. All children had an early clinical response. Only one child treated with LAB relapsed. No severe adverse events were observed with treatment.


Visceral leishmaniasis is still a common disease in our area. Clinical and laboratory findings of visceral leishmaniasis are similar to other Mediterranean area reports. PCR analysis of the bone marrow aspirate was more sensitive than traditional diagnostic techniques. Non-invasive diagnostic techniques may be used as an aid in the diagnosis of visceral leishmaniasis in children. Short course treatment of visceral leishmaniasis with liposomal amphotericin B has been safe and effective.

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