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University of Balamand > News > Archive > On the Infection Cutaneous Leishmaniasis

On the Infection Cutaneous Leishmaniasis

Invited by the Department of Biology, Dr. Ibrahim Khalifeh, assistant professor of Clinical Pathology at the American University of Beirut Medical Center (AUBMC) presented a lecture on April 3 about a serious and emerging infection in Lebanon: cutaneous leishmaniasis.

Dr. Khalifeh is a specialist in Dermatopathology and is dealing, as a clinician and a researcher, with most cases of this disease that is especially affecting Syrian refugees.

The presentation, entitled “Cutaneous leishmaniasis; a Story to Tell,” shed light on different aspects of cutaneous leishmaniasis (also known as Aleppo or Baghdad sore), caused by a parasite called Leishmania and normally transmitted to humans through insect bites (mainly the sandfly mosquito). The disease is characterized by skin sores that usually start at the site of the sandfly bite and may develop on mucous membranes. Cutaneous leishmaniasis displays considerable variation in its histopathological and clinical presentation.

Dr. Khalifeh explained that, clinically, the disease progresses from a papule into a painless ulcerated and crusted nodule/papule. He pointed that although an accurate histological diagnosis is mandatory for appropriate therapy, some countries (including Iran and Syria) rely on the clinical presentation to determine and start treatment, if any.

Several forms of the disease exist, depending on the specific species of Leishmania, with outcomes ranging from simple scars on the skin to very serious ulcerations, and even death.

Dr. Khalifeh clarified that the incidence of cutaneous leishmaniasis is quite recent in Lebanon, and has seen an outbreak with the sudden increase in the numbers of refugees in the country over the past three years. He stressed that leishmaniasis is usually a self-limiting disease requiring thus no particular treatment. However, in our country it has recently become an extensive disease which urges the need for a proper antibiotic. To this end, the WHO has provided Lebanese authorities with the drug Glucantime, which tremendously helped in the control of the disease.

Dr. Khalifeh concluded by offering advice on the vari​ous means of protection against the disease, all of which were focused on protecting oneself against the bites of the carrier mosquitoes. ​​​
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