If a patient has been in Iraq or another known endemic area, we are very used to looking for leishmaniasis. But in the past, you just would not have suspected it in a patient living in North Texas with no travel history. This is why I think its important to get the word out to other health-care professionals, Dr. Aftergut said.
For many years sporadic cases have been seen in South Texas. But no one has ever reported cases this far north, Dr. Aftergut said. He said this may be due to a movement in either the burrowing wood rat or the sand flies that transmit the infection to humans, although the reason for this movement is unclear.
There are nine cases of leishmaniasis in North Texas residents who had no travel history in the last two years, said Dr. Aftergut. This is very strong evidence that the areas we need to consider endemic are moving north.
Dr. Aftergut said he believes that rural areas are more at risk due to their proximity to wooded areas, where the burrowing wood rat and sand flies are more likely to be found.
Dr. Aftergut said using insecticides, bug repellant and protective clothing while working in areas where sand flies might be present should help reduce exposure. Once bitten, there are two types of medicines to treat the infection; however, one treatment can be toxic to some patients.
Doctors who identify a possible case of leishmaniasis should contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which can assist with the special tests needed to verify it. The federal agency also is tracking
|Contact: Russell Rian|
UT Southwestern Medical Center