Defense Base Act Compensation Blog

The Modern Day DBA Casualty

Barbara Herwaldt CDC on Leishmaniasis in Iraq 2002

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on September 18, 2010

On December 11, 2002 Barbara Herwaldt, a leishmaniasis expert with the CDC spoke before the DOD in reference to leishmaniasis and the soon to be war in Iraq.

She warned them that Leishmaniasis would be a huge problem and that we were not prepared to deal with it.


She told them that they would be in Iraq during the prime sandfly season.

She explained that it was transmittable sexually, congenitally, and by blood transfusion.

She requested that there be a ban on blood donations from Soldiers and Civilians returning from Iraq.

This ban was not put in place until the end October of 2003 long after thousands of soldiers and contractors exposed to leishmaniasis returned to their homes.

From the transcript:

“In conclusion, the infection and the disease–we have simplicity amidst complexity.

We have recurring themes of being able to activate decades after latency; the possibility of at least intermittent long-term parasitemia;

the transmissibility by blood transfusion but we don’t know the level of risk, and the fact that visceral leish can be fatal and even bloodborne leish can be fatal.

Cutaneous leish  can be chronic and morbid.

No gold standard for diagnosis; no tests for mass screening; no great treatment and the treatment probably doesn’t result in sterile cure;

and the need for better understanding of the persistence and bioavailability of these parasites”

From The Iraq Infections

2 Responses to “Barbara Herwaldt CDC on Leishmaniasis in Iraq 2002”

  1. […] Barbara Herwaldt CDC on Leishmaniasis […]

  2. […] Barbara Herwaldt, CDC, on Leishmaniasis […]

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