Date: Fri 13 Jan 2017
Source: Rare Disease Report [edited]
Douglass Preston and his crew of explorers and archaeologists planned for 3 years to visit an ancient lost city. They set out to adventure to the ruins of Ciudad Blanca, also known as the "City of the Monkey God" nestled deeply in the jungle of Mosquitia in Honduras and Nicaragua. The ruins have been dated between 1000 and 1500 AD and were thought to be filled with exciting ancient artefacts. The city's possible existence has tempted adventure seekers since the 1500s to go search for the ruins, including Douglas' partner in the journey, Steve Elkins.
The adventure was made a lot easier with an expensive laser mapping technological device called LIDAR, which was funded for the adventure by documentary filmmaker Bill Benenson. LIDAR was capable of scanning hundreds of square miles of dense jungle in a matter of days. LIDAR found them the ancient lost city. While seeing many artefacts of the deserted city, the team concluded that the site could not be excavated at that time, and waited for intervention by the Honduran government.
Months after leaving the jungle, Douglass noticed a bite from a sand fly that just was not properly healing; so did another member of the team. After going to get it medically looked at, Douglass found that he had contracted a virulent strain of leishmaniasis, a parasitic disease that migrates to the mucous membranes of your mouth and your nose and eats them away.
Over the next few months, about half the team came down with the early symptoms and had to undergo treatment. Douglass and his team aren't sure they are ready to go back. Leishmaniasis is a parasitic disease that is found in parts of the tropics, subtropics, and southern Europe. It is classified as a Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD).
Leishmaniasis is caused by infection with leishmania parasites, which are spread by the bite of phlebotomine sand flies. [Byline: Andrew Black]
[For more information on La Ciudad Blanca, see:
The leishmania parasite is found in animals, usually small rodents, and is transmitted to humans by the sandfly vector. The area the adventurers explored just happened to have a high density of infected rodents and an abundance of the vectors.
Mucocutaneous leishmaniasis in Honduras is caused by _L. panamensis_ and _L. braziliensis_, and the reservoir is not known (Alvar J, VÃ©lez ID, Bern C, Herrero M, Desjeux P, Cano J, et al. (2012) Leishmaniasis Worldwide and Global Estimates of Its Incidence. PLoS ONE 7(5): e35671. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0035671. Annex 42).
The high infection rate underlines the importance of thorough prevention measures against insects using repellents, impregnated clothes and tents, and impregnated bed nets. - Mod.EP A HealthMap/ProMED-mail map can be accessed at: <http://healthmap.org/promed/p/22