Topics: Leishmaniasis, Leishmania, Immune system Pages: 6 (2064 words) Published: December 4, 2012

"The Sting of The Sand Fly"

By Jared Yeazell

Admittedly, since the beginning of time, disease has played a drastic role in the history of society. It has affected economic conditions, wars, and natural disasters. The impact of any disease can be far greater than some far better known catastrophes. In 1918, an epidemic of influenza swept the globe, killing between 20 million and 40 million people. Within a few months, more than 500,000 Americans had died. This is a number far greater than the number of people killed during World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War combined. Over one quarter of the world's population are at risk from parasitic infections, and the majority of these infections are confined to the world's poverty belt, the tropics and sub-tropics. Low income levels are greatly associated with debilitating disease patterns. Kala Azar, Black Fever, Sand Fly Disease, and Dum Dum Fever; all different names for one fatal, flesh-eating disease, spread by the almighty bite of the vicious female sand fly. The common name for this deadly disease is Leishmaniasis. Approximately 350 million individuals in 88 countries; including Afghanistan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Peru, Iran, Brazil and parts of China, are at great risk of contracting Dum Dum Fever.

Leishmania is a genus of Trypanosomatid protozoa, the parasite responsible for the disease Leishmaniasis. Protozoa are single-celled and considered to be the simplest of all organisms in the animal kingdom. The types of blood-sucking protozoa which cause the Sand Fly Disease are in coincidently carried by the blood-sucking sand fly. The sand fly is referred to as the disease vector, meaning that the infected protozoan is now being carried by the sand fly. Over time, it will soon be passed on to other animals or humans, in which the protozoan will set up shop and wreak havoc. Risk factors mainly include climate change and other environmental changes, that have the potential to expand the geographic range of Leishmaniasis transmission in the future. Cases in the United States are mostly imported from other countries, by travelers or immigrants, and are more commonly found in our canine friends. It has been estimated that there are 2 million new cases of Leishmaniasis every year in the world, of which 1.5 million are categorized as cutaneous Leishmaniasis and 0.5 million are visceral Leishmaniasis. Less commonly, transmission of this disease can also occur from direct transmission between dogs and from dogs to humans. Therefore, direct contact with open wounds or exudates of dogs with Leishmaniasis and contaminated objects should be avoided to prevent potential contact transmission of Leishmania. Leishmaniasis is classified as one of the most neglected diseases, based on the limited resources invested in diagnosis, treatment and control, and its strong association with poverty.

Digging into this a little deeper, I will give a brief history lesson on Leishmaniasis. Canine Leishmaniasis was first identified in Europe in 1903, and in 1940, nearly half (40%) of all dogs in Rome were determined to be positive for Leishmaniasis. Traditionally thought of as a disease only found near the Mediterranean basin, 2008 research claims new findings are evident that Leishmaniasis is currently expanding in continental climate areas of northwestern Italy, far from the recognized disease-endemic areas along the Mediterranean coasts. Cases of Leishmaniasis began appearing in North American in 2000, and Leishmania-positive foxhounds have been reported in 22 states and two provinces of Canada as of 2008.

Furthermore, on the human side of it, descriptions of conspicuous lesions have been discovered on tablets form King Ashuranipal from the 7th century BC, some of which may have been derived from even earlier...
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