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A proposed division of the Leishmania is into Euleishmania and Paraleishmania. Five subgenera are recognised - Leishmania, Paraleishmania, Sauroleishmania, Viannia and the L. The Endotrypanum genus is now recognised as a division of Paraleishmania. They share the same main morphological features; a single flagellum which has an invagination, the flagellar pocket, at its base, a kinetoplast which is found in the single mitochondrion and a subpelicular array of microtubules which make up the main part of the cytoskeleton.

Sauroleishmania was originally described by Ranquein 1973 as a separate genus, but molecular studies suggest this is actually a subgenus rather than a separate genus. These groups may be accorded subgenus (or other) status at some point, but their positions remains undefined at present. The biochemistry and cell biology of Leishmania is similar to that of other kinetoplastids.

The division into the two subgenera (Leishmania and Viannia) was made by Lainson and Shaw in 1987 on the basis of their location within the insect gut.

At least three subgenera exist: Leishmania, Sauroleishmania, and Viannia.

Due to its broad and persistent prevalence throughout antiquity as a mysterious disease of diverse symptomatic outcomes, leishmaniasis has been dubbed with various names ranging from "white leprosy" to "black fever".

venezuelensis The first written reference to the conspicuous symptoms of cutaneous leishmaniasis surfaced in the Paleotropics within oriental texts dating back to the 7th century BC (allegedly transcribed from sources several hundred years older, between 15 BC).

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About 2 million new cases occur each year, and 21 species are known to cause disease in humans. (V.) braziliensis has been proposed as the type species for this subgenus. The species in the Viannia subgenus develop in the hind gut: L. This subgenus probably evolved from a group that originally infected mammals. The status of several of these is disputed, so the final number may differ. To make things more complex, hybrids might be involved, as it has been reported in Brazil with an hybrid between Leishmania (V.) guyanensis and Leishmania (V.) shawi shawi. Molecular studies have cast doubts on this basis for classification and they have been moved to subgenus status within Leishmania.

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