Leishmania infantum is a flagellate parasite that infects the macrophages of its hosts and causes visceral leishmaniasis. It is found in Old World children and has also been found in foxhounds in the U.S. Leishmania uses the sand fly as a vector; Phlebotomus spp. in the Old World and Lutzomyia spp. in the New World.
Leishmania infantum is injected into the skin of humans in promastigote form when the sand fly bites. It invades the reticulo-endothelial cells and forms an amastigote in the cell. The parasite reproduces by asexual replication and invades other cells. Amastigotes form in the cells and are ingested by the sand fly when it bites. The parasite transforms into the promastigote stage and reproduction occurs in the midgut of the fly. The promastigotes migrate to the proboscis and are ready to infect when the sand fly bites another human.
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