Many Americans travel to the Middle East unaware of the little dangers present there such as sand flies that can deliver painful, itchy bites. Sand flies can also vector Leishmaniasis. This protozoan disease can have an incubation period of several months before the characteristic skin lesions appear. It is best to avoid areas where sand flies are abundant. If unavoidable, insect repellent and impregnated bed netting are a must.
In most developed countries, sand flies are managed to limit interaction with humans. Leishmaniasis is considered a “Neglected Tropical Disease” by the US-CDC because it is most prevalent in poor coutries that lack resources to manage the sand flies. However, Leishmaniasis has had a resurgence in some countries such as Israel which experienced a 10-fold increase between 2001 and 2012. Several American youth on a tour of Israel gone bad have experienced the resurgence first hand. During their tour, several youth were repeatedly bitten by sand flies and developed Leishmaniasis skin ulcers after their return.
Angry parents in Los Angeles have filed suit against the North American Federation of Temple Youth, the tour sponsor. The lawsuit alleges that the tour group failed to provide the youth with information about the dangers of sand flies, appropriate insect repellents and protection against sand fly bites. The parents trusted the tour group to be knowledgeable and responsive to potential disease threats. The suit alleges that the tour group was negligent for failure to protect the travelers.
When traveling to a foreign country or around the US, travelers should always be aware of biting insects, the diseases they transmit and common disease prevention measures.