Parasites in Iraq and Afghanistan

There have been many cases of Veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan acquiring Infectious Diseases from living conditions, local foods or drinking contaminated water in the AOR. Many Veterans continue to struggle with these issues, some even eating tobacco as some Veterinarians suggest the same treatment for cats and dogs for ridding parasites.

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The Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta reported that the parasites can also be spread through blood transfusions. According to federal health officials soldiers who served in Iraq will not be allowed to give blood for a year after returning home, because of a rare skin parasite that has infected multiple members of the military.

The most common disease, called leishmaniasis, is spread by sand flies and can cause itchy skin lesions. A more serious form, so far caught by none of the soldiers, can cause death. Since August of last year, 18 members of the military have caught the parasite in Iraq, plus two each in Kuwait and Afghanistan.

The Pentagon estimated the potential loss of blood donors at more than 12,000 people. But many of the servicemen would not have been allowed to donate anyway because they were in areas where malaria is endemic. Donation bans were already in place for soldiers returning from Kuwait and Afghanistan.

Those stricken by the parasite came from the Army, the Air Force and the Marine Corps and included active, reserve and National Guard members. Most were serving in northern or central Iraq. They were treated with intravenous drugs at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington.

The parasite is common in parts of central and southern Asia and infects more than 1.5 million people a year. The small, circular lesions are painless but can leave scars.
“They’re self-healing, but they can take months to heal on their own,” said Dr. Charles Oster at Walter Reed, who treats soldiers with leishmaniasis. “It’s not something people need to freak out about it, but it should be treated.”

Web Sources:
Florida residents warned about parasite carrying New Guinea Flatworms
Digital Journal

US soldiers in Iraq hit by parasite

By Patrick Moser

MORE than 650 US troops deployed in Iraq have been infected with a fly-borne parasite that causes chronic, festering sores, officials said at a health conference in Miami.

About 660 soldiers were found to have contracted the leishmaniasis parasite since US troops launched operations in Iraq in March 2003, Colonel Naomi Arenson, an expert on the disease at the Walter Reed Army Medical Centre, said.

The cases found in Iraq are all of cutaneous leishmaniasis, which is seldom lethal, and usually heals over time but can leave significant scarring.

If left untreated, simple skin sores in rare cases can spread to the nose and mouth.
The number of victims was likely to rise in coming weeks, she told AFP on the sidelines of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene’s annual conference.
“This is about the season when we start seeing cases,” she said.

She nevertheless expects the number of new cases to drop as a result of better troop facilities, including air-conditioned barracks sealed to keep out flies, as well as education on the risks of diseases.

Since the parasite causes open sores the main risk is that victims could suffer secondary infections, Colonel Arenson said.

Caution was particularly important in the field, where troops often cannot bathe regularly.
She said the parasite’s presence also affects morale, with soldiers worried at “the concept of having parasites in their bodies”.

The most severe cases from Iraq are sent to the Walter Reed hospital, just outside Washington, for treatment. But US forces have recently set up facilities for basic treatment in Baghdad and Kuwait.

Experts discussing the disease in Miami disagreed on how to treat specific cases, or even whether they should just let the disease run its course.

They did agree more research was needed to find an affordable and simple treatment.
Leishmaniasis is spread by infected sand-flies, and is endemic in some tropical and subtropical areas including Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan.

Colonel Arenson said fewer than 10 cases had been recorded among US troops in Afghanistan.

So far there have been no reports of US troops in Iraq or Afghanistan being infected with visceral leishmaniasis, which can cause severe damage to some of the body’s internal organs, including the spleen, liver and bone marrow.

Melbourne Hearald Sun (Australia)
November 11, 2004

Diseases related to Gulf War, Iraq and Afghanistan Military Service

The Zoonosis of Animal Parasites in Iraq X. A Confirmed Case of Human Ectopic Fascioliasis

F. N. Fattah, B. B. Babero, A. A. Karaghouli AND A. S. Shaheen
College of Medicine, Baghdad University, Iraq
The first confirmed case of ectopic human fascioliasis in Iraq is reported. Based on morphological characteristics, the fluke recovered was identified as an immature specimen of Fasciola gigantica. The source of infection is believed to have resulted either from the consumption of certain raw vegetables or from contaminated water containing the metacercarial stage of the parasite.

Web Source:
The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene

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