Doctors Fear Scarring Bug Disease Brought to Europe by Migrants

By Published on May 30, 2016

Cutaneous leishmaniasis, a disease caused by bites from sandflies, has spread from thousands infected in Syria to neighboring countries.

Experts warn it has made its way to Europe with the millions of Syrians that have migrated over the last year. Cutaneous leishmaniasis often leads to severe scarring on the face if it goes undiagnosed and untreated.

The disease has been contained to Islamic State-controlled regions in Syria, particularly Raqqa, Deir al-Zour and Hasakah. As the civil war destroyed much of Syria’s medical facilities, it often goes untreated and spreads rapidly.

The estimated number of patients rose from six in 2012, to several thousand a year later, according to World Health Organization statistics.

Cases have already been detected in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.

Waleed Al-Salem, a doctor at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, calls the current situation “very bad.”

“It’s a very bad situation. The disease has spread dramatically in Syria, but also into countries like Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey and even into southern Europe with refugees coming in,” Al-Salem told The MailOnline Saturday. ‘There are thousands of cases in the region but it is still underestimated because no one can count the exact number of people affected.”

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