’Baghdad boil’ outbreak poses health threat in eastern Iraq

World Today

’Baghdad boil’ outbreak poses health threat in eastern Iraq

Millions of displaced Iraqis are returning home following a victory declared by the government over ISIL. Once back, however, many are confronted with damaged homes and inadequate services.

CGTN’s Meng Qingsheng visits a health center in Diyala Province, where thousands are coping with an infectious disease.

An outbreak of Baghdad Boil is taking hold of al-Udhaim. In January alone, medical officials recorded some 500 cases.

Hannah is taking her seven-month old daughter for treatment, while a total of six people in her family have developed the symptoms.

“I’ve taken my daughter to this hospital three times,” the mother said. “In the beginning, it’s like a bite, then it got worse and worse.”

Baghdad Boil is the common name for Cutaneous Leishmaniasis, a skin infection caused by Leishmania parasites and transmitted by Sand Fly bites. The initial phase brings pain and itchiness, and even after it’s healed, leaves a scar that will likely last forever.

Without treatment, the disease takes several months or even years to heal.

Many, like 12-year-old Safaa, worry about the prolonged suffering.

“It has been four to five months since it appeared for the first time,” he said. “I have severe pains and bleeding sometimes, especially during sleep.”

Experts say that after being deserted for so long, residents returned to homes lacking sanitation. This is why the disease had an outbreak in the first place, and why so many cases continue appearing.

Al-Udhaim was seized by ISIL militants in June 2014, followed by incessant bombing that destroyed the only hospital. In March 2017, the International Red Cross began recovery efforts to meet rising medical demands.

ICRC officials say the primary health center is the only one for 30 kilometers and serves around 40,000 people. This is, however, an improvement over the crowded and unsanitary tent that existed before.