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Dermatologists identify North Texas leishmaniasis outbreak
Date:9/14/2007

DALLAS Sept. 14, 2007 A team of dermatologists and dermatopathologists at UT Southwestern Medical Center has identified nine North Texas cases of an infectious skin disease common in South America, Mexico and in the Middle East, where it is sometimes referred to as a Baghdad boil.

Numerous cases of the disease, called leishmaniasis, have been reported in troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. But for the first time, cases of this dangerous infection are appearing in North Texas in patients who have not traveled to endemic areas.

The infection causes nonhealing sores that can be the size of a half-dollar or larger and that look like boils. These sores usually last for 6 to 12 months and because they are often mistaken for a staph infection, patients may have been given multiple courses of standard antibiotics without success.

The disease is caused by a single-celled parasite called Leishmania, and special cultures must be done in order to confirm the diagnosis of leishmaniasis.

The identified cases were from Waxahachie, Hillsboro and Glenn Heights, all areas south of Dallas; Tom Bean, Anna, Savoy and Nevada, all north of Dallas; and North Richland Hills.

North Texas doctors must have a high index of suspicion and understand that this organism must now be considered endemic in this area, said Dr. Kent Aftergut, a clinical instructor of dermatology at UT Southwestern and in private practice at Methodist Charlton Medical Center.

Luckily, all of the leishmaniasis cases in North Texas that have been cultured have grown Leishmania mexicana, which is less dangerous than other forms of the parasite, he said. It makes skin sores, but the infection doesnt spread and become a full body disease like some of the others species of Leishmania. Usually, if patients have a normal immune system, the sores will resolve in six to 12 months and wont make the patients ill.

In North Texas, doctors suspe
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Contact: Russell Rian
russell.rian@utsouthwestern.edu
214-648-3404
UT Southwestern Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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