The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
Conceived and designed the experiments: VR, PS, HK and RS. Analyzed the data: HK, AKM, VR and PS. Management of PKDL patients: VR. Wrote the paper: HK, VR and PS. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
Patients with Post kala-azar dermal leishmaniasis (PKDL) are considered a reservoir of Leishmania donovani. It is imperative to identify and treat them early for control of visceral leishmaniasis (VL), a current priority in the Indian subcontinent. We explored trends in clinico-epidemiological features of PKDL cases over last two decades, for improving management of the disease.
Clinically suspected cases were diagnosed with rK39 strip test followed by parasitological confirmation by microscopy and/or PCR/qPCR in skin tissue/slit aspirates. Patients were treated with antimonials till 2008 and subsequently with miltefosine.
The study indicated higher incidence of PKDL cases in areas of high endemicity for VL, with 20 % cases reporting no history of VL. Approximately 26 % cases of PKDL were initially misdiagnosed at primary health centers. Duration between onset of PKDL and diagnosis was above 12 months in 80 % cases. Diagnostic sensitivity was 32-36 % with microscopy and 96–100 % with PCR/qPCR. Compliance to treatment was over 85 % with miltefosine while 15 % with antimonials. Relapse rate with miltefosine was up to 13.2 %.
PKDL patients tend to delay reporting and are often misdiagnosed. Confirmatory diagnosis using minimally invasive skin slit aspirate samples would help overcome such issues. There was a paradigm shift in compliance with miltefosine; however, increasing relapse rate indicated the need for newer therapies with oral formulations.