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BACKGROUND:Cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL) may be emerging among international travellers and migrants. Limited data exist on mucocutaneous leishmaniasis (MCL) in travellers. We describe the epidemiology of travel-associated CL and MCL among international travellers and immigrants over a 20-year period through descriptive analysis of GeoSentinel data. METHODS:Demographic and travel-related data on returned international travellers diagnosed with CL or MCL at a GeoSentinel Surveillance Network site between 1 September 1997 and 31 August 2017 were analysed. RESULTS:A total of 955 returned travellers or migrants were diagnosed with travel-acquired CL (n = 916) or MCL during the study period, of whom 10% (n = 97) were migrants. For the 858 non-migrant travellers, common source countries were Bolivia (n = 156, 18.2%) and Costa Rica (n = 97, 11.3%), while for migrants, they were Syria (n = 34, 35%) and Afghanistan (n = 22, 22.7%). A total of 99 travellers (10%) acquired their disease on trips of ≤ 2 weeks. Of 274 cases for which species identification was available, Leishmania Viannia braziliensis was the most well-represented strain (n = 117, 42.7%), followed by L. major (n = 40, 14.6%) and L. V. panamensis (n = 38, 13.9%). Forty cases of MCL occurred, most commonly in tourists (n = 29, 72.5%) and from Bolivia (n = 18, 45%). A total of 10% of MCL cases were acquired in the Old World. CONCLUSIONS:Among GeoSentinel reporting sites, CL is predominantly a disease of tourists travelling mostly to countries in Central and South America such as Bolivia where risk of acquiring L. V. braziliensis and subsequent MCL is high. The finding that some travellers acquired leishmaniasis on trips of short duration challenges the common notion that CL is a disease of prolonged travel. Migrants from areas of conflict and political instability, such as Afghanistan and Syria, were well represented, suggesting that as mass migration of refugees continues, CL will be increasingly encountered in intake countries.

Original publication





Journal of travel medicine

Publication Date





Tropical Disease Unit, Division of Infectious Diseases, University Health Network-Toronto General Hospital, Toronto, Canada.


GeoSentinel Surveillance Network , Humans, Leishmaniasis, Mucocutaneous, Adolescent, Adult, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Middle Aged, Child, Child, Preschool, Infant, Transients and Migrants, Costa Rica, Canada, Bolivia, Afghanistan, Syria, Female, Male, Young Adult, Travel-Related Illness