Leishmaniasis is a parasitic disease transmitted by sandflies infected with the protozoa Leishmania. Cutaneous leishmaniasis is endemic in 88 countries worldwide and affects an estimated 12 million people.
There are several clinical forms of leishmaniasis, mainly: Cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL), Muco-cutaneous leishmaniasis (MCL) and Visceral leishmaniasis. The clinical manifestation of the infection depends on the species of Leishmania, which varies with geographical area and the host’s immune response.
Based on its geographical distribution, cutaneous leishmaniasis can be divided into: Old World (including, the Middle East, Southern Europe, parts of South-West Asia and Africa) and New World leishmaniasis (from Southern USA through Latin America to Argentina).
Most studies of CL and MCL provide scarce information regarding gender and leishmania infection. It is estimated that leishmaniasis is more common in males. In recent studies in Israel, we also found that among our returning-travelers with New- World CL illness, males were highly representative (83%). However, performing a population-based survey in endemic areas of Old-World CL in Israel demonstrated that the infection rate was similar between males and females. Thus, it may be postulated that there is no real gender difference in leishmanial infection, but infections are more commonly seen in men because of more risk-taking behaviors and risky travel to more remote destinations, where the chance of acquiring tropical diseases is higher. Additionally, men may be less likely to adhere to preventive measures and therefore, are at an increased risk of contracting disease.
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