General information on diagnosing leishmaniasis can be found on the CDC Leishmaniasis Resources for Health Professionals Web page. Laboratory confirmation of the diagnosis is made by detecting Leishmania parasites or DNA in infected tissue. Methods include examining stained specimens with a light microscope, culturing the organism, or using molecular methods (e.g., polymerase chain reaction).

In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provide reference diagnostic services for leishmaniasis (contact CDC Parasitic Diseases Inquiries at 404-718-4745 or parasites@cdc.gov).

Military Health System (MHS) Leishmaniasis-Related Diagnostic Services

  • The U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command (USAMRMC) in collaboration with commercial partners has been engaged in developing enhanced diagnostic and detection tools for Leishmania parasites including:
    • The CL Detect™ Rapid Test is a qualitative, in vitro immunochromatographic assay (hand-held “dipstick”) manufactured by InBios International, Inc. for the rapid detection of Leishmania species in skin lesions, which received FDA clearance in November 2014. Test results are available within 30 minutes.
    • The SMART Leish PCR assay for Diagnosing Leishmania in Individuals with Signs and Symptoms of Leishmaniasis is a qualitative test that uses real-time polymerase chain reaction on a small tissue sample from the skin lesion to amplify DNA sequences unique to the Leishmania parasite, which received FDA clearance in May 2011.
    • The Arthropod Vector Rapid Detection (AV-RDD) Kits are hand-held assays used to determine whether arthropods (sand flies and mosquitoes) are infected with pathogens capable of infecting personnel with diseases including leishmaniasis.

Leishmaniasis Diagnostic Scraping Video

Produced by the U.S. Army Medical Command (MEDCOM)

Provides guidance on the proper technique for making a skin scraping for the diagnosis of cutaneous leishmaniasis.

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Disease Reporting

Leishmaniasis is a reportable disease in the Military Health System for all military healthcare system beneficiaries (e.g., service members, family members, retirees, civilian federal government employees). Guidance for case definition and reporting can be found on the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch, Reports and Publications Web page. (Reportable Events guidelines can be found under the heading "Surveillance Case Definitions.")