Neglected tropical diseases diagnostics

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What are NTDs?

NTDs are a diverse group of 20 diseases that prevail in tropical and subtropical climates.

These diseases disproportionately affect the poorest and the most marginalized communities, primarily women and children. Data from a landmark study in 2013 showed that NTDs were responsible for the loss of 17 million healthy years globally that year, with a high proportion being lost in sub-Saharan Africa.

What is leishmaniasis?

  • Leishmaniasis is caused by protozoan parasites which are transmitted by the bite of infected female phlebotomine sandflies.
  • There are 3 main forms of leishmaniases: visceral (the most serious form because it is almost always fatal without treatment), cutaneous (the most common, usually causing skin ulcers), and mucocutaneous (affecting mouth, nose and throat).
  • The disease affects some of the world’s poorest people and is associated with malnutrition, population displacement, poor housing, a weak immune system and lack of financial resources.
  • An estimated 700 000 to 1 million new cases occur annually.

(WHO Leishmaniasis key facts)

How is leishmaniasis diagnosed?

Leishmaniasis is caused by a protozoa parasite from over 20 Leishmania species. Over 90 sandfly species are known to transmit Leishmania parasites.

In visceral leishmaniasis, diagnosis is made by combining clinical signs with parasitological, or serological tests (such as rapid diagnostic tests). In cutaneous and mucocutaneous leishmaniasis serological tests have some value and clinical manifestation with parasitological tests confirms the diagnosis.

(WHO, Leishmaniasis Key Facts)

  • Neglected tropical diseases programme at FIND

    We are working to accelerate elimination of NTDs through tailored testing strategies.

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  • Global leishmaniasis surveillance: 2021

    In 2021, 221 953 new cutaneous leishmaniasis cases (221 614 autochthonous and 339 imported) and 11 743 new VL cases (11 689 autochthonous and 54 imported) were reported to WHO.

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  • Neglected tropical diseases test directory

    FIND maintains a searchable directory of Neglected Tropical Diseases tests.

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