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Leishmaniasis is a parasitic disease which occurs in three forms: (1) visceral disease, characterized by fever, weight loss, anemia, and enlargement of the liver and spleen developing over months to years; (2) cutaneous disease, manifested by skin ulcers on exposed parts of the body developing over weeks to months; and (3) mucocutaneous disease, characterized by disfiguring erosions of the mucous membranes of the nose, mouth, and throat. The disease is transmitted by sandflies, which are about one-third the size of mosquitoes. Sandflies breed in sites where its larvae will find warmth, moisture, and organic matter, such as leaf litter, loose earth, old tree bark, rubbish heaps, and crevices in human dwellings. Sandflies typically bite from dusk to dawn, but may bite during the daytime if disturbed. There is no vaccine at present. The key to prevention is insect protection measures, which are essentially the same as those outlined for mosquitoes, except that netting must be finer-mesh (at least 18 holes to the linear inch) since sandflies are smaller.
Cases of cutaneous leishmaniasis were reported in October 2003 among U.S. military personnel serving in Iraq (especially in the urban and periurban areas of An Nasiriyah and Baghdad), Kuwait (near the Iraqi border), and Afghanistan. For further information, go to MMWR.
From the World Health Organization
From the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
Leishmaniasis (life cycle, geographic distribution, clinical features, diagnosis)
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