When I write, it’s often about leprosy, but there’s another “L” disease that deserves attention: leishmaniaisis, caused by the bite of a sandfly. Like leprosy, it’s categorized by the World Health Organization as a neglected tropical disease or NTD. Together, the NTDs affect more than one billion people and cost developing economies billions of dollars every year.
I was recently invited to attend the “5th Post Kala Azar Leishmaniasis (PKDL) Consortium Meeting” in Colombo, Sri Lanka. A relatively small panel of scientists, control personnel and policy makers came together to discuss PKDL, a sequelae of visceral leishmaniasis (VL) on the Indian subcontinent and east Africa. A primary motivator for the discussions was the dichotomy that is currently occurring in the relationship between VL and PKDL; despite treatment advances and reduced case reports for VL control, PKDL is becoming relatively more common.
We shared data with regard to how PKDL is detected and treated, and what measures are available (or could become available) to prevent this manifestation. Furthermore, concerns were raised as to how PKDL cases could impact long term control of VL in affected regions.
It’s always a pleasure to spend time among the company of people driven by the same ultimate goals, while getting the opportunity to explore new places.