A flesh-eating tropical bug that was limited to Syria has been spreading rapidly in the Middle East and may sweep Europe very soon. Reportedly, ISIS civil war created a perfect breeding ground for the bug.
Cutaneous leishmaniasis is a parasitic disease which spread through bites from infected sand flies. It can lead to sever scarring on the face. It is a disease which usually goes undiagnosed and untreated. Some symptoms of the disease are open sores, nose bleeding, difficulty in breathing and swallowing. According to The Sun, it can also lead to death if goes unchecked.
Previously, the Kurdish Red Crescent had claimed that the flesh-eating tropical bug is spreading rapidly after ISIS has dumped rotting corpses in the street. Poor medical facility is perceived as another cause of the spread. Thousands of medical workers were killed and hospitals bombed in the war-torn country, which has devastated the medical facilities. Chronic lack of water and wreckages are the prevalent problems which also helped the disease to spread. The bug has swept across ISIS strong holds like Raqqa, Hasakah and Deir al –Zour.
The spread of the disease can be further boosted by the poor living conditions at refugee camps, which includes overcrowding, malnutrition, lack of medical facilities.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has claimed that the disease is rapidly spreading in Syria’s neighbouring countries like Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. There were only 6 cases of the disease in Lebanon between 2000 and 2012. In September 2012 the disease outbreak started in the country, reported Al Arabia English. Consequently, in 2013, 1,033 cases were reported of which 96% were displaced Syrian refugees.
Hundreds of cases are reported in Jordan, East Libya, Turkey and Yemen. There is a high possibility of the bug’s spread in Arabia, as more and more Yemenis are migrating to the country. There is the risk that refugees migrating to these Middle Eastern countries might carry the disease to Europe, too.
Dr Waleed Al-Salem, of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, told MailOnline, “It’s a very bad situation. The disease has spread dramatically in Syria, but also into countries like Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey and even into southern Europe with refugees coming in.”
“There are thousands of cases in the region but it is still underestimated because no one can count the exact number of people affected,” added Al-Salem.
The doctors said that the only ways to fight the flesh-eating tropical bug are early detection and treatment, training for doctors, and improved living conditions in refugee camps. Moreover, continued surveillance after containing the outbreak is essential.