Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Leishmaniasis

Leishmaniasis
Wednesday, March 17, 2004
12:28:00 AM CST

17 Mar 2004

Happy St. Patrick's Day. Here are some pleasant thoughts to quaff down with your green beer....

Medical Advisory - Leishmaniasis

Recent reports from Iraq have raised concerns regarding the potential impact of leishmaniasis on deployed personnel. Leishmaniasis is a preventable disease native to Iraq and other parts of Southwest Asia. Spread by sandflies (not person-to-person), the disease as found in Iraq presents itself in two forms. The skin form called cutaneous leishmaniasis (Baghdad Boil) causes mild to severe skin lesions that take months to heal and may be permanently disfiguring, though highly effective treatment is available. The internal form called visceral leishmaniasis (Kala-azar) causes fever, weakness, wasting, an enlarged spleen, and a lowered blood count. If untreated, visceral leishmaniasis is generally fatal.

Currently, the greatest threat is in Central Iraq and the area around Baghdad... Reports from some locations in Iraq indicate very heavy populations of sandflies, 2 to 3 % of which carry the disease. Some service members at locations where sandfly numbers are high are reporting upwards of 100 bites per person.

So far, seven service members from Iraq and two from Afghanistan have been diagnosed with cutaneous leishmaniasis and successfully treated. Because the incubation period (the time for getting a sandfly bite to the development of disease) can be many months, it is also possible that deployed personnel may redeploy without knowing they are infected.
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