Suspected cutaneous leishmaniasis in a sample of Westerns Sicily residents: what correlation with occupation?

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Maria Gabriella Verso
Fabrizio Vitale
Germano Castelli
Federica Bruno
Antonella Migliazzo
Maria Rita Bongiorno
Fiorella Santi
Giuseppe Pistone
Emanuele Amodio
Diego Picciotto


Cutaneous leishmaniasis, Leishmania infantum, work-related leishmaniasis


Background: Leishmaniasis is a widespread infectious disease, but there is not much information about its prevalence in high risk occupational categories. Objectives: The aim of this study is to assess the prevalence of Leishmania immunological positivity in human skin tissues collected from subjects living in Western Sicily, with suspected cutaneous Leishmania infection, in order to explore the risk possibly related to occupation. Methods: 318 consecutive subjects (M/F ratio=1.0, mean age=40±25.4 years), attending the Dermatology Department of the University of Palermo Hospital from 2013 to 2015, without any previous history of Leishmania infection and performing various occupations, were included. Parasite isolation and PCR-RT test on skin scrapings were performed to evaluate the immunological status; all data were analyzed by the chi square test, comparing all positive results from the different provinces. Results: 81 (50.9%) out of 159 females and 79 (49.7%) out of 159 males were found PCR-RT positive to Leishmania infantum, with a higher risk in the Agrigento district (p<0.001) and in subjects living in rural areas (p=0.0038), regardless of the type of work performed. The observed animal leishmaniasis prevalence in the same areas shows the endemic status of the disease in Sicily. Conclusions: Although based on a relatively small sample, our study shows that cutaneous leishmaniasis represents a health care problem with a medical and social impact in Western Sicily. An active surveillance system and the establishment of diagnosis and treatment centres could be useful in controlling this public health problem.
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