Background Poverty, lack of resources, inadequate treatments and control programmes exacerbate the impact of infectious diseases in the developing world. Leishmaniasis is a vector-borne disease that is among the ten major neglected tropical diseases. Although endemic in more than 90 countries, the ones most affected, representing over 90% of new cases, are Bangladesh, Brazil, Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Nepal, and Sudan. In Africa south of the equator, the impact of leishmaniasis is much lower. In several countries, like Angola, little is known about this infectious neglected disease. In the 1970s, a group of Portuguese researchers described three cases of cutaneous leishmaniasis in children from Huambo district and in the 1990s visceral leishmaniasis was diagnosed in an African patient. More recently a canine survey in Luanda revealed two Leishmania-infected dogs.
After some suspected cases of human cutaneous leishmaniasis in Huambo region in 2017, the Angola health authorities and the Instituto de Higiene e Medicina Tropical (IHMT), Lisbon, Portugal, established a collaboration to analyse samples from some suspected cases.
Methods Three paraffin-embedded human skin samples from dermatological lesions were sent to IHMT for molecular analysis. After DNA extraction, PCR was performed by using four protocols with different molecular markers.
Results One PCR protocol using a nested approach was positive in two of the samples. Sequencing analysis confirmed Leishmania sp. DNA.
Conclusion This was the first time that suspected human cutaneous samples were screened for leishmaniasis by molecular methods with detection of Leishmania sp. DNA. These preliminary studies highlight the need for higher awareness of health professionals for leishmaniasis clinical forms, to recognise risk factors and the epidemiological features of leishmaniasis in the Huambo province. It would be relevant to perform further epidemiological studies to confirm if this vector-borne disease could be emergent in this country.
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