Surveillance and outbreak reports Open Access
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Starting from 1989 Italy experienced an increase of visceral leishmaniasis (VL) cases over a baseline of 10 to 30 cases reported annually. The number of cases peaked in 2000 and 2004 with more than 200 cases/year, and subsequently declined to reach on average one third of the 2000 peak value in the period after 2010. A retrospective analysis from 1982 to 2012 showed that the multi-annual epidemic consisted of major components including (i) an outbreak involving infants and immunocompetent adults in parts of the Campania region (southern peninsular Italy) and that appears to have declined naturally, (ii) a second outbreak affecting human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected individuals throughout the country, that declined owing to the use of highly active antiretroviral therapies (HAART), (iii) a generalised increase of VL cases in immunocompetent individuals and patients affected by associated conditions other than HIV from endemic regions of peninsular and insular Italy (other than Campania), which was due to a geographical spreading of VL foci, with no major case-clusters or outbreak features. A minor component consisted in the appearance of a few autochthonous cases in formerly non-endemic areas, starting from the early 1990s. Epidemic determinants and reasons for VL decline in the Campania region remain largely unexplained, despite the information available on canine reservoir and phlebotomine vectors in Italy.


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