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Flesh-eating Parasite spreads in the Southern States

A flesh-eating parasite as known Leishmania Mexicana is spreading rapidly in the southern states of the U.S. and with no effective vaccines available at the moment. CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) says this Leishmania Mexicana is spread by some sand flies.

These sand flies are a fourth of the size of mosquitoes and do not need standing water to breed. These parasite infections are reported in Latin America. It is not easy to control this parasite which infects up to a million each year, according to CBS News.

The term leishmaniasis encompasses multiple clinical syndromes, several of which are described here—the cutaneous, mucosal, and visceral forms, which result from infection of macrophages in the dermis, in the naso-oropharyngeal mucosa, and throughout the reticuloendothelial system, respectively. For all three forms, the infection can range from asymptomatic to severe. Cutaneous and mucosal leishmaniasis can cause substantial morbidity, whereas visceral leishmaniasis can be life-threatening, according to the CDC.

The problem is there is no vaccine for humans and this flesh-eating parasite has been seen spreading across the southern border states and Mexico. The pathogen of this parasite comes from rodents, dogs, and even humans who come from overseas. Dogs from abroad through travel, moving, and adoptions have raised concerns about this parasite spreading.

The term kala-azar—which means black (kala) fever (azar) in Hindi—often is reserved for severe (advanced) cases of visceral leishmaniasis, although the terms kala-azar and visceral leishmaniasis sometimes are used interchangeably. If untreated, severe cases of visceral leishmaniasis typically are fatal, either directly from the disease or indirectly from complications, such as secondary (myco)bacterial infection or hemorrhage.

The immediate concern for this flesh-eating parasite now appears to be “endemic” in Texas as well as some southern border states.

Some patients develop post-kala-azar dermal leishmaniasis (PKDL), a syndrome characterized by skin lesions (such as erythematous or hypopigmented macules, papules, nodules, and patches), typically first noticed and most prominent on the face, that develop at variable intervals after (or during) therapy for visceral leishmaniasis. Persons with chronic PKDL can serve as important reservoir hosts of infection.

This parasite, Leishmaniasis is diagnosed by detecting “Leishmania parasites (or DNA) in tissue specimens—such as from skin lesions, for cutaneous leishmaniasis (see instructions), or from bone marrow, for visceral leishmaniasis (see note below)—via light-microscopic examination of stained slides, molecular methods, and specialized culture techniques,” and most commonly symptoms are fever, weight loss, and swelling liver and spleen.

More than 90% of visceral leishmaniasis patients who are not treated timely manner will die, according to CBS News.

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