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A primitive animal

Leishmania are protists1 or protozoa2 (from the Greek “proto”, which means first, primitive and “zoo”, which means animal), that is, small, single-celled organisms3. Leishmania come in two different forms: a flagellated form4 (which allows the protist to move around) and an unflagellated form.

Transmitted by an insect

Leishmanias cause a disease called leishmaniasis. This disease is transmitted by the bite of a small insect, the sandfly5. Leishmania can infect either the skin and mucous membranes6 causing cutaneous or mucocutaneous leishmaniasis or can also spread throughout the body, and end up in the bone marrow in particular. Some of these diseases are observed only in a few regions of the world (South America for example) depending on the Leishmania species found there.