BACKGROUND: Different species of the genus Leishmania can cause cutaneous (CL) and mucosal leishmaniasis (ML). PCR-based tests allow a rapid diagnosis and determination of the species, thereby enabling species-oriented treatment. Such treatment procedures have not been evaluated to date.
METHODS: Patients presenting with CL and ML between 1999 and 2011 were analysed retrospectively. PCR technology was used to diagnose the disease and identify the protozoan to the species level.
RESULTS: A total of 61 cases were reviewed, including 58 patients with CL and three patients with ML. Treatment was effective in most patients. Treatment failure was reported in six patients with L. panamensis (one fluconazole, one ketoconazole), L. infantum (one excision, one fluconazole), L. tropica (one paromomycin/methylbenzethonium), L. braziliensis (1 paromomycin/methylbenzethonium). In 11 (18 %) patients treatment had to be interrupted due to adverse events, and in eight patients (13 %) a second treatment had to be applied. Treatment with meglumine antimoniate had to be interrupted in six patients, with QTc prolongation the reason for the interruption in three patients.
CONCLUSIONS: Species-related, targeted treatment resulted in good responses in CL and ML lesions. Treatment recommendations for L. panamensis were changed from ketoconazole to miltefosine because of new evidence of treatment failures. Meglumine antimoniate should be restricted to species with poor response to alternative medications and should be used with caution in patients older than 60 years because of its toxicity. Treatment in immunosuppressed patients was successful, but relapses were observed when the immune system could not be restored. This is the first report on L. aethiopica from Egypt.