Visceral leishmaniasis (also known as kala-azar) affects people in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Programs reported 12,000 cases in 2018. Visceral leishmaniasis is caused by the infected bites of sandflies that breed in and around homes or farms.

If visceral leishmaniasis progresses, it attacks the immune system and affects the bone marrow and internal organs (including enlargement and impaired function of the spleen and liver), as well as causing irregular bouts of fever, substantial weight loss and anaemia. Without treatment, visceral leishmaniasis can have a fatality rate as high as 100% within two years.

The disease is linked to poverty.

75% decrease in Indian subcontinent from 2015 to 2020 Under 13,000 cases reported in 2020
Source: WHO data 2020 (latest available)

Number of visceral leishmaniasis cases reported by country

Number of visceral leishmaniasis cases reported by year

Cutaneous leishmaniasis affects people in the Americas, the Mediterranean basin, the Middle East and Central Asia. It is estimated that between 600 000 to 1 million new cases occur worldwide annually.

Cutaneous leishmaniasis(CL) is the most common form of leishmaniasis and causes skin lesions, mainly ulcers, on exposed parts of the body, leaving life-long scars and serious disability or stigma. In 2020 over 85% of new CL cases occurred in 10 countries: Afghanistan, Algeria, Brazil, Colombia, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Peru, the Syrian Arab Republic and Tunisia.

In 2020 85% of new CL cases occurred in 10 countries 600,000 to 1 million estimated new cases annually

Number of cutaneous Leishmaniasis cases reported by country

Number of cutaneous leishmaniasis cases reported by year

Further information

WHO Factsheet