Leishmaniasis is a disease with many names. In the Mediterranean region, where it frequently occurs, it is also known as the Aleppo or Oriental boil. It is caused by various species of leishmania (parasites) and results in very different clinical presentations. In all cases the consequences are severe tissue damage of the skin or the internal organs. With the support of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation), a trilateral research unit composed of German, Israeli and Palestinian doctors, biologists and ecologists has been studying the causative agents of leishmania, possible transmission pathways and remedies for the past five years. Despite partially difficult external circumstances, the interdisciplinary research in the Near East was successful: It has already yielded a series of results that can contribute to combating the disease.
The Oriental boil, the symptom of the ancient infectious disease called leishmaniasis cutis (cutaneous leishmaniasis), is hardly known in Germany. In contrast, in many countries of Asia and South America leishmaniasis occurs frequently; its incidence has even been increasing in the Near East and India over the past few years. The main vector of the disease is the two-millimetre long sand fly. A single bite is sufficient to cause an infection. A vaccine or medicinal preventive care is not yet available. Treatment of leishmaniasis is difficult: It is associated with side effects and is expensive which means that it cannot be afforded by poor patients.
In Israel and the Palestinian areas three species of leishmaniasis-causing agents occur which present different clinical pictures and are associated with different vectors and hosts. In 1998 a project funded by the DFG began in which scientists from Germany, Israel and the Palestinian areas are jointly studying this disease. Th
Contact: Jost-Gert Glombitza