Just when you thought that you had heard of every insect-borne disease in the world, another one is brought to your attention. We all know mosquitoes are global killers, but sandflies are responsible for causing a startling amount of deaths per year as well. A disease known as leishmaniasis can be spread by several species of sandfly. This disease occurs in all regions of the world, except for Antarctica and Australia. However, the vast majority of leishmaniasis cases occur in the Mediterranean basin, northern Africa, the middle east, central Asia, and the Americas. People living in tropical or subtropical regions of the world are at the highest risk of contracting the disease. Leishmaniasis can result in death in many cases. In cases when disease victims are spared death several health problems can still result from contracting the disease. These complications include the enlargement of the spleen and liver, decreased blood cell production, excessive bleeding, muscle weakness and swollen lymph nodes.

There are three different forms of leishmaniasis that can infect individuals. The least severe of the three is referred to as cutaneous leishmaniasis. This form of the disease can disappear without medical intervention. But seeing a doctor is still a good idea if you show symptoms of the disease. Skin ulcers of varying seriousness can appear on the skin of people suffering from this form of the disease. Medical treatments will reduce scarring that can result from these skin lesions. Another more serious form of the disease is known as mucocutaneous leishmaniasis. This form always requires medical intervention. Lesions that result from this form of the disease do not heal on their own. The third, and most serious form of the disease is referred to as visceral leishmaniasis. Continued medicinal treatments are required in order to prevent eventual death when this form of the disease occurs. It is always a good idea to start medical treatments as soon as possible, as visceral leishmaniasis often results in fatalities within two years of symptom onset.


Have you ever heard of an American who contracted this disease within the borders of the United States? Do you worry about contracting this disease?


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