According to health officials, 50 cases of Leishmaniasis have been confirmed in Tibú in the Catatumbo area as of June 1. Indigenous and rural communities in remote areas of Catatumbo are at the highest risk because of their lack of information about the disease and access to medical care, according to officials. Out of the 50 cases, 10 are Venezuelan nationals.
At least four cases of leishmaniasis, including one fatality, were reported in the city of Neiva (capital of Huila department) as of April 26, pushing local authorities to issue an alert. Tests carried out on 1000 street dogs (carriers of the disease) in the Comuna Nueva area of the city indicated that some 50 percent are infected.
Leishmaniasis is a parasitic disease carried by dogs and other mammals and transmitted to humans via sandflies. Various forms of the disease exist but common symptoms include: cough, diarrhea, fever (lasting up to two months), and nausea/vomiting. Leishmaniasis is endemic in Colombia; a total of 164 cases of the disease were reported nationwide in 2015.
Individuals present in Colombia, particularly in the north, are advised to take measures to protect themselves from sandflies, such as wearing clothing that covers as much skin as possible, using insect repellent on exposed skin as well as under shirt and pant leg openings, and using screens on doors and windows/sleeping in air conditioned rooms or under mosquito netting.