Visceral leishmaniasis has assumed an increasing importance in Brazil due to its high incidence and wide geographical distribution. When associated with malnutrition and co-infections it can prove to be fatal. A notable increase in transmission rates related to urbanization has been observed in the past 20 years. A combination of measures is needed to define new methods for reducing transmission. This paper analyzes the main biological, environmental and social aspects that have influenced the spread and urbanization of the disease. The diagnostic tests and drugs available have been shown to be insufficient in both applicability and efficiency. Significant advances have been made in the areas of pathogenesis, diagnosis and treatment, and they are discussed. Current control measures are unable to eliminate and prevent new outbreaks and a brief report is presented on the challenges faced. Vaccines against human and canine visceral leishmaniasis are being investigated, and there is hope that the first visceral leishmaniasis vaccine for dogs will become available in Brazil next year. Here we review these developments and identify priorities for research.
Visceral leishmaniasis in Brazil; Prophylaxis; Control program; Challenges and prospects