People currently affected
Cutaneous Leishmaniasis is an insidious disease, an underestimated health crisis affecting the most marginalized communities. It's a type of a silent epidemic, cloaked under the shadows of more renowned ailments. Born from the bite of a sandfly infected with the Leishmania parasite, CL is often referred to as a "flesh-eating" disease. This moniker isn't just for dramatic flair - it's a horrifyingly accurate description of the skin ulcers and lesions the disease inflicts. It is the most common form of Leishmaniasis and is characterized by the disfiguring and debilitating skin sores that can leave deep and life-altering scars.
While CL can be found on almost every continent, its primary battlegrounds are the rural and peri-urban areas of approximately 90 tropical and subtropical countries, mainly in regions of the Americas, the Mediterranean basin, the Middle East and Central Asia. The insidiousness of CL is further underscored by the fact that it often ravages populations with limited access to adequate healthcare. CL is an opportunist, thriving in conditions wrought by social upheaval and displacement, like war-torn regions or areas recovering from natural disasters. It's an ailment that, although neglected, affects an estimated 1 million people each year, revealing the urgent need for attention and intervention.
An underestimated Scourge
The Treatment Dilemma: Unpalatable Medicine
The treatment of Cutaneous Leishmaniasis for many decades has been dominated by a regimen of potent, but harsh, drug injections. Imagine a solution so corrosive it could rust a metal spoon, now picture this being the primary line of defense against a disease that already ravages your skin. Yes, it's effective, but the severity of side effects is enough to send shivers down anyone's spine. From severe muscle aches to liver damage and even life-threatening allergic reactions, patients are faced with a devil's choice between the disease and a cure that seems just as menacing. The heart-wrenching reality is that many choose to live with the scarring and disfigurement, rather than suffer the grueling treatment process. For too long, this has been the harsh reality of battling Cutaneous Leishmaniasis.