Aleppo Evil: The Skin Disfiguring Parasite Spreading across Syria
Sandflies & Civil War
The Syrian civil war has set the stage for the reemergence of a rare infectious disease. Transmitted through the bite of the sandfly, Leishmaniasis is a parasite that can affect many different parts of the body. The most prevalent form in the Middle East is called Cutaneous Leishmaniasis, which causes disfiguring welts and scarring of the skin. A more lethal variant known as Visceral Leishmaniasis can also damage the spleen and liver.
Since the Syrian conflict began in 2011, the number of Leishmaniasis cases has skyrocketed from 3,000 to over 100,000. Water shortages and poor sanitation have combined to create conditions ripe for the transmission of the disease. To make matters worse, the pentavalent antimonial drugs used to treat Leishmaniasis are becoming increasingly scarce. In times of conflict, Public Health tools such as surveillance, multi-sector response, and international collaboration rapidly diminish states Dr. Peter Hotez, Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and President of the Sabin Vaccine Institute.