Flesh-Eating Bug on Rise in Syria, and It’s Caused by ISIS Dumping Bodies in the Street

December 6, 2015 Updated: December 6, 2015

Leishmaniasis, a flesh-eating disease carried by parasites, is on the rise in ISIS-controlled areas in Syria.

(WARNING: Some of the photos in this article are graphic and might be disturbing for some readers.)

It’s caused by ISIS militants dumping bodies in the street, reports have indicated.

The bug is usually carried by flies, but experts say the rotting bodies in the street has triggered a dramatic rise.

Around 16 months ago, records suggest around 500 people were affected by the disease, but that is believed to have soared, Yahoo News reported.

Dilqash Isa, the chief of the Kurdish Red Crescent humanitarian group, told the website: “As a result of abominable acts by ISIS that included the killing of innocent people and dumping their corpses in streets, this is the leading factor behind the rapid spread of Leishmaniasis disease.”

The Syrian healthcare system has collapsed in the past five years due to the country’s civil war.

“We did not have knowledge about this deadly disease before,” a Syrian Kurdish fighter was quoted as saying. “We have been fighting on the battlefield for almost four years and this disease [was] basically generated from embattled areas of Tal Hamis, Hon and Qosa.”

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Leishmaniasis is found in parts of the tropics, subtropics, and southern Europe. It’s caused by the bite of phlebotomine sand flies.

“Leishmaniasis is found in parts of about 88 countries. Most of these countries are in the tropics and subtropics. It is possible but very unlikely that you would get this disease in the United States. But you should be aware of it if you are traveling to the Middle East or parts of Central America, South America, Asia, Africa or southern Europe,” the U.S. National Institute of Health said.

Symptoms of the disease include open sores, skin lesions, ulcers around the nose and mouth, as well as damage to the spleen, fever, and anemia.