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Rewriting the history of leishmaniasis in Sri Lanka: An untold story since 1904

Nuwangi, Hasara, Weerakoon, Kosala Gayan, Agampodi, Thilini Chanchala, Price, Helen Philippa, Dikomitis, Lisa, Agampodi, Suneth Buddhika (2022) Rewriting the history of leishmaniasis in Sri Lanka: An untold story since 1904. PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, 16 (12). Article Number e0010918. ISSN 1935-2735. (doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0010918) (KAR id:99025)


Leishmaniasis is widely considered a disease that emerged in Sri Lanka in the 1990s. However, a comprehensive case report from 1904 suggests that the presence of Leishmaniasis was well demonstrated in Sri Lanka long before that. The Annual Administration Reports of Ceylon/Sri Lanka from 1895 to 1970 and the Ceylon Blue Book from 1821 to 1937 are official historical documents that provide an annual performance, progress, goals achieved, and finances of Sri Lanka during that time. Both these documents are available in the National Archives. The Ceylon Administrative Report of 1904 reports a full record of observation of Leishman-Donovan bodies in Sri Lanka for the first time. These reports contain a total of 33,438 cases of leishmaniasis in the years 1928 to 1938, 1953, 1956, 1957, 1959, 1960, and 1961 to 1962. Up to 1938, the term “cutaneous leishmaniasis” was used, and after 1938, the term “leishmaniasis” was used in these reports. “Kala-azar” was also mentioned in 11 administrative reports between 1900 and 1947. In 1947, an extensive vector study has been carried out where they reported kala-azar cases. This well-documented government health information clearly shows that the history of leishmaniasis is almost the same as the global history in which the first case with Leishman-Donovan bodies were reported in 1903.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0010918
Uncontrolled keywords: Viewpoints, Medicine and health sciences, People and places, Biology and life sciences, Research and analysis methods
Subjects: R Medicine
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Natural Sciences > Kent and Medway Medical School
Funders: National Institute for Health Research (
SWORD Depositor: JISC Publications Router
Depositing User: JISC Publications Router
Date Deposited: 09 Dec 2022 12:22 UTC
Last Modified: 09 Feb 2024 15:42 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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