Refugees at the Crossroads of Continents: A Molecular Approach for Cutaneous Leishmaniasis Among Refugees in Turkey



Due to mass population movements driven by internal conflicts and wars, cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL) is becoming increasingly important in Turkey. This study is aimed at determining the clinical aspects, diagnosis and genotyping of CL patients coming to Turkey from abroad.


In our study, the clinical materials obtained from the patients or sent for diagnostic purposes from other centers to our laboratory between years 2012 and 2016 were assessed retrospectively. In total, there were 38 patients from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, and Turkmenistan.


29 (76%), 28 (73%) and 33 (87%) samples were positive by light microscopy, Novy-McNeal-Nicolle(NNN), and enriched medium, respectively. By ITS-1 gene region PCR, 31 (81%) of the cases were positive. 35 of the patients were tested positive by at least one of the diagnostic methods. By genotyping, 21 Leishmania tropica, 8 Leishmania major, 3 Leismania infantum, 2 Leishmania donovani, and 1 Leishmania aethopica were detected.


This study is aimed at informing the clinicians working in the field for the import CL cases and recording the changing epidemiological features of CL in the region as well as discussing the possible focus for L. aethiopica infection which has not been shown in the region before.

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We would like to thank ManisaCelal Bayar University Parasite Bank. Turkish Society of Microbiology Study Group for Infections Related to Migration and Travel contributed to this study.

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Correspondence to Varol Tunali.

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Özbilgin, A., Gencoglan, G., Tunali, V. et al. Refugees at the Crossroads of Continents: A Molecular Approach for Cutaneous Leishmaniasis Among Refugees in Turkey. Acta Parasit. 65, 136–143 (2020).

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  • Cutaneous leishmaniasis
  • Refugees
  • Migration
  • Parasitic diseases
  • Turkey