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A flesh-eating parasite may now be 'endemic' in southern states

Leishmaniasis is transmitted by sand flies, which are insects smaller than mosquitoes that live in Texas and other southern states.
A flesh-eating parasite may now be 'endemic' in southern states
Posted at 6:17 PM, Oct 20, 2023

New analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds the flesh-eating disease Leishmaniasis may now be "endemic" in parts of the U.S., since Texas and other southern U.S. states are home to the sand flies that transmit the disease.

Findings were published Thursday by the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.

Leishmaniasis is a disease caused by a strain of parasites which infect between 700,000 and 1.2 million people a year. The most common form of the disease causes skin sores, which may not show up for months after a person has been infected, and may cause recurring symptoms for years.

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Leishmaniasis is most commonly transmitted by sand flies, which are small bloodsucking insects about a quarter of the size of mosquitoes that don't depend on standing water to reproduce. Transmission is most common from dusk to dawn, when the flies are most active, and more common in rural areas.

The disease is present in some parts of at least 90 countries, according to the CDC, but until now it has not usually appeared in the United States. Most infections in the Western Hemisphere occur in Brazil.

There is no vaccine available, and treatment does not eliminate the risk of a relapse.

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