Preventing Leishmaniasis

Key points

  • There are no vaccines or drugs to prevent leishmaniasis infection.
  • The best way people can prevent infection is to protect themselves against sand fly bites.


If you live in or visit a country where leishmaniasis occurs, protecting yourself from sand fly bites is the best way to prevent infection. There are no vaccines or drugs to prevent leishmaniasis infection.

Prevention tips

People can take the following preventive measures:

When Indoors

  • Stay in safe indoors areas (e.g., well-screened or air-conditioned areas).
  • Be aware that sand flies are much smaller than mosquitoes, and therefore can get through smaller holes.
  • Spray living and sleeping areas with insecticide to kill insects.
  • If you are not sleeping in a well-screened or air-conditioned area, use a small mesh bed net and tuck it under your mattress. If possible, use an insecticide-treated bed net. Screens, curtains, sheets, and clothing can also be treated with insecticide. Clothing should be retreated after five washes.

When Outdoors

  • When possible, wear clothing to minimize the amount of skin you have exposed (e.g., long-sleeved shirts, long pants, socks; tuck your shirt into your pants).
  • Use EPA-registered insect repellant on exposed skin and under the ends of sleeves and pant legs. Repellants that contain DEET are generally the most effective.

Note: Bed nets, repellents, and insecticides should be purchased before traveling and can be found in hardware, camping, and military surplus stores. Bed nets and clothing that already have been treated with a pyrethroid-containing insecticide also are commercially available.