Is leishmaniasis in Sri Lanka benign and be ignored?
Karunaweera ND., Rajapaksa US.
Cutaneous leishmaniasis is now an endemic disease in Sri Lanka. Many studies have focussed on various aspects of this disease but the knowledge, particularly on epidemiological and vector aspects is still poor and the awareness among the general public and even medical/paramedical personnel regarding this disease remains grossly inadequate. The steady increase in the numbers and spread of cutaneous leishmaniasis cases in Sri Lanka and the very close similarity (genotypic and phenotypic) between the local parasite Leishmania donovani MON-37 and the parasite causing visceral leishmaniasis in India (L. donovani MON-2), considered together with the more recent case reports of autochthonous cases of visceral disease in this country, calls for urgent action for setting up of a surveillance programme to estimate the true disease burden and to implement an organized control strategy, combined with operational and epidemiological research to aid control efforts to avert a potentially major catastrophe of more virulent form of leishmaniasis, particularly the visceral type becoming endemic in Sri Lanka.