ISIS has been accused of fostering the spread of a gruesome skin disease in the Middle East which is especially prevalent amid the squalid conditions of refugee camps.
According to The Christian Post, the skin-eating disease is called Cutaneous Leishmaniasis and is contracted through the bite of sandflies which are drawn to the unsanitary conditions found in many refugee camps.
"There are thousands of cases in the region but it is still underestimated because no one can count the exact number of people affected,” stated Dr. Waleed Al-Salem of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. “When people are bitten by a sand fly – which are tiny and smaller than a mosquito – it can take anything between two to six months to have the infection."
The disease creates open sores on the skin which can lead to disfigurement and subsequently social stigma if left untreated. Health officials warn that if the disease is not dealt with swiftly, another epidemic similar to Ebola may arise.
"We need to ring fence them or risk another situation like Ebola out of the conflict zones in West Africa in 2014," said U.S. Peter Hotez, dean of the U.S. National School of Tropical Medicine.
ISIS militants have been driving people from their homes and creating the need for refugee camps. It is also thought that the terrorists are responsible for the outbreak of the disease because they often leave the bodies of their victims exposed on the roadside, thus creating habitats for the disease-carrying flies.
Dr. Al-Salem added that the refugee crisis exacerbates the threat of the disease spreading:
"So someone might have picked it up in Syria but then they may have fled into Lebanon or Turkey, or even into Europe as they seek refuge. Prior to the outbreak of war there was good control of diseases, parasites and sand flies but when the conflict started no one cared, conditions worsened and the health system broke down, which has created an ideal environment for disease outbreaks."
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Publication date: May 31, 2016