There are no vaccines to prevent leishmaniasis. The best way to protect yourself from the disease is to avoid being bitten by sand flies by staying indoors from dusk to dawn, when the insects are the most active; wearing long pants and long-sleeved shirts when outside; and using insect repellent and bed nets as needed.
People infected with cutaneous leishmaniasis should seek treatment right away, as the skin disease can spread to the nose or mouth (called mucosal leishmaniasis). It is even more critical to diagnose and treat visceral leishmaniasis as soon as possible because failure to treat can lead to death.
Antimony-containing compounds, such as sodium stibogluconate, are the primary treatments for leishmaniasis, though emerging drug resistance has limited their utility. Where resistance is present, the drugs pentamidine or amphotericin may be used.
Last Updated February 25, 2009
Last Reviewed February 25, 2009