Cutaneous leishmaniasis: Disfiguring tropical disease sweeps across Middle East

A disfiguring tropical disease is sweeping across the Middle East as a combination of heavy conflict and a breakdown of health care facilities in Isis-occupied areas leaves swathes of people vulnerable to the illness.

Cutaneous leishmaniasis is caused by a parasite in the blood stream transmitted through sand fly bites. The disease can result in horrible open sores as well as disfiguring skin lesions, nodules or papules.

Leishmaniasis has been endemic in Syria for centuries and was once commonly known as the “Aleppo evil”. However, as Syria’s civil war continues the resulting refugee crisis has triggered a catastrophic outbreak of the disease.

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