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The persisting burden of visceral leishmaniasis in Iraq: data of the National Surveillance System, 1990–2009

  • B. MAJEED (a1), J. SOBEL (a1), A. NAWAR (a2), S. BADRI (a2) and H. MUSLIM (a2)...

Visceral leishmaniasis (VL) is an endemic parasitic disease transmitted by the bite of sand flies. To describe trends and demographics of reported VL cases, we reviewed surveillance data from 1990–2009. Reported VL incidence per 100 000 population was 2·6 in 2007, 3·1 in 2008, and 4·8 in 2009, mostly in children aged <5 years. The number of cases varied greatly in step with prevailing economic and security conditions, raising concerns about the completeness and quality of surveillance data. Nevertheless, we conclude that VL remains an important endemic disease in Iraq and that surveillance system is recovering the capacity to detect cases as the country experiences greater stability. We recommend conducting formal entomological investigations, and evaluating existing control measures.

Corresponding author
*Author for correspondence: Dr B. Majeed, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Center for Global Health, 1600 Clifton Rd, Atlanta, GA 30333, USA. (Email:
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1. JJ Schleier , A probabilistic risk assessment for delayed military personnel after the implementation of the ‘Leishmaniasis control programme’ at Tallil air base, Iraq. Journal of Medical Entomology 2009; 46: 693702.

2. MA Oshaghi , Vector incrimination of sand flies in the most important visceral leishmaniasis focus in Iran. American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 2009; 81: 572577.

3. RE Coleman , Impact of Phlebotomine sand flies on U.S. military operations at Tallil air base, Iraq: 2. Temporal and geographic distribution of sand flies. Journal of Medical Entomology 2007; 44: 2941.

4. RE Coleman , Use of diagnostics during military deployment: recent experience in Iraq and Afghanistan. Military Medicine 2009; 174: 904920.

5. RE Coleman , Impact of Phlebotomine sand flies on U.S. military operations at Tallil air base, Iraq: 1. Background, military situation, and development of a ‘Leishmaniasis control programme’. Journal of Medical Entomology 2006; 43: 647662.

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Epidemiology & Infection
  • ISSN: 0950-2688
  • EISSN: 1469-4409
  • URL: /core/journals/epidemiology-and-infection
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