Conflict Rolls Out Red Carpet for Outbreaks

The reemergence of a cutaneous leishmaniasis epidemic, fueled by population displacement, is a little-discussed consequence of the Syrian conflict.

Up until 1960, prevalence of the sand-fly transmitted disease was limited to 2 endemic areas. Around 2010, pre-conflict incidence was 23,000 cases/year, shooting up to 41,000 cases by 2013.

After mapping prevalence within Syria and its neighbors, researchers including Waleed S. Al-Salem concluded that cutaneous leishmaniasis is popping up where displaced Syrians and disease reservoirs coexist—with deteriorating health services and disrupted sand fly habitats creating ideal conditions for outbreaks.

The Quote: “War, infection, and disease have always made intimate bedfellows, with disease recrudescence characterizing most conflict zones.”

CDC Emerging Infectious Diseases

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