La tunisie Medicale - 2022 ; Vol 100 ( n°01 ) : 13-26
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Summary

Visceral leishmaniasis (VL) is a severe life threatening parasitosis requiring early management of cases. It is an emerging disease in the Mediterranean region with a spread of endemic areas and an increase in case incidence. The patient profile has also evolved with more affected adults, presenting generally non-specific symptoms. Hence the interest of a systematic biological confirmation.
The microscopic detection of Leishmania amastigotes in bone marrow aspirates (BMA) smears is the gold standard diagnostic technique. However, it requires invasive sampling. Serological tests searching for specific antibodies remain highly contributory, but their interpretation must always take into account the epidemiological context and the patient’s clinical and biological features. Currently, the Western-Blot represents the most specific serological technique for diagnostic confirmation. VL diagnosis has greatly improved by the introduction of both rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) and molecular biological techniques. RDTs using recombinant rk39 antigen are easy to perform and deliver results in less than 30 minutes. Real-time PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) is currently retained as the best technique for VL diagnosis. It is efficient on simple blood samples, allowing to avoid invasive BMA needed for microscopy. In addition, real time PCR estimates parasite load which is helpful for the post-treatment follow-up. In any case, the choice of techniques to be used should be strategic and adapted to the local epidemiology as well as to the means available.

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