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J Infect. 2011 Jul;63(1):76-82. doi: 10.1016/j.jinf.2011.03.012. Epub 2011 May 20.

Mucosal Leishmania infantum leishmaniasis: specific pattern in a multicentre survey and historical cases.

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Laboratoire de Parasitologie et Mycologie, Centre Hospitalo-Universitaire de la Timone, Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Marseille (AP-HM), 13385 Marseille, France.



Leishmania infantum mucosally restricted leishmaniasis was rarely reported, so that diagnostic and treatment strategies remain debated. A long-term multicentric survey appeared thereby necessary.


Cases were prospectively collected over 12 years in 3 academic hospitals of Southern France. Predisposing factors, clinical findings, diagnostic procedures, treatment and outcome were compared to medical literature.


Ten new cases and 40 historical reports were collected. Respectively 10/10 and 35/40 patients were adult males. Immunodeficiency was frequent (5/10 and 18/40). No previous cutaneous lesion was reported. Leishmaniasis affected mostly larynx (5/10 and 19/40), but also mouth (2/10 and 19/40) and nose (3/10 and 5/40). Lesions were highly polymorph. Mucosa histological examination provided respectively 1/10 and 2/40 false negative results, contrary to serum immunoblotting and PCR on mucosal biopsy. Although local response was always satisfactory even using topical treatment, subsequent visceral spreading was observed in 2/10 and 1/40 cases.


L. infantum mucosally restricted leishmaniasis exhibits a specific pattern, marked by tropism for adult males, high clinical and histological polymorphism. Immunoblot screening and PCR confirmation of suspected lesions are necessary because of direct examination occasional false negative results. The risk of visceral spreading sustains systemic therapy.


Leishmania infantum mucosal leishmaniasis mostly affects adult males, half of them immunodeficient. Clinical and histological polymorphism makes the diagnosis difficult, stressing the need for immunoblot screening and mucosa PCR analysis of suspected cases. Possible visceralization sustains systemic therapy.

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