A rare case of leishmaniasis recidiva cutis evolving for 31 years caused by Leishmania tropica

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A 64-year-old woman presented with erythematous, infiltrative plaques with a central atrophic area on both zygomatic regions. Several yellow-reddish papules were seen at the periphery of the plaques and showed an “apple-jelly” color on diascopy (Fig. 1). No visceral involvement was detected.

The past medical history revealed that, at 3 years of age, she had developed an “Oriental sore” on both cheeks that healed with permanent scars. Thirty years later, she noticed an erythematous patch around the scars. She reported a hospital admission 22 years earlier for cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL); this was treated with pentavalent antimonial therapy for 10 days with partial improvement, when she refused further treatment. The lesions worsened in the summer and gradually became disfiguring, which prompted her to seek medical consultation.

Laboratory findings were normal. Leishmania antibody titers were negative. Tissue samples were obtained by biopsy from the border of the lesion for culture, polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and histopathologic examination. Histology revealed a dermal infiltrate with tuberculoid granulomas surrounded by lymphocytes, histiocytes, and some plasma cells, but no caseation necrosis. A few Leishmania organisms were found on careful searching (Fig. 2). Leishmania tropica was identified by culture and PCR.

A diagnosis of leishmaniasis recidiva cutis (LRC) was made on the basis of the anamnestic data together with the clinical, histopathologic, biologic, and molecular findings. Complete regression was achieved with meglumine antimoniate (Glucantime) given intramuscularly (15 mg SbV/kg/day for 15 days) and cryosurgery with liquid nitrogen. No recurrence was noted during a 12-month follow-up period.

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